Colorado Intrigue

On this last week of our road trip we made it to Colorado. We are now very intrigued with the idea of spending a lot more time in Colorado. We drove past a number of venues that landed on our to do list!

fullsizeoutput_4069It helped that our first park, Lake Pueblo State Park, was terrific! The sites were huge and the views were expansive.



Daisies were everywhere!

fullsizeoutput_4064I found a very nice Safeway!  It was the nicest grocery store I’ve been to on the whole trip. I confess to being a grocery store snob. I like new, clean, well-stocked stores that have a Starbucks. Although not every Safeway is this nice, I always look for them.

fullsizeoutput_406cOne evening we watched a storm roll in. We watched for too long because the next thing we knew we were getting wet through our ceiling vent. It closes automatically when it detects rain but the wind was blowing so hard that it couldn’t.

Randy was trying to help it close and keep the water out while I was wiping up the water coming in through our window weeping holes.


That’s us in the white circle in the pink!  We had an intense ten minutes with strong winds, rain and hail. Fortunately there was no tornado warning.

fullsizeoutput_4072The next morning we had to go searching for Elko’s water bucket and were surprised to find it!


Elko was hiding because he didn’t want to leave – although that isn’t about Colorado.  He just doesn’t like travel days.  Poor guy…


Our terrific site and view!

I talked with the camp host who said they were enjoying their experience but had 98 sites by themselves. Whew! That is a lot but we liked the park well enough to consider it in the future.

fullsizeoutput_4097Next we traveled to Curecanti National Recreation Area near Gunnison. We had a nice site there too. Our big event was the National Park Service Morrow Point Boat Tour.    Once you get to the parking lot you go down 232 steps to water level.

fullsizeoutput_4079Then you walk a mile along the old railroad grade until you find the boat.


fullsizeoutput_407fWe had a delightful tour learning about the geology and history of the area. We learned about the quest to build the narrow gauge Denver- Rio Grande Railroad through the Black Canyon Gorge. It was so difficult that a number of men died and eventually they had to bring in foreign labor.  Beginning in 1882, the railroad hauled ore, coal, livestock and passengers for 67 years.


Later it was used as a tourist train – the most Scenic Line of the World.


We saw some interesting rock cliffs!



Curecanti Point





A waterfall!


Old telegraph equipment.


And an Eagle!

It was a great trip even though we then had to go up those 232 steps!

If Colorado is so Colorful, why are their signs so plain?  And why are people putting travel stickers on the Utah sign?

fullsizeoutput_409aWe arrived at Green River State Park in Utah which has a golf course on site. Randy doesn’t golf often but this was so convenient! He came by mid-round for a Guinness.


When our neighbors pulled in they had one of those “I can’t believe I did that” moments when the gentleman closed the tailgate and started to pull forward before he had cleared the trailer hitch. Randy was over there for a while helping him get it cleared. No condemnation here!  Everyone has those moments – like our Missouri Oops!

(In an interesting add on:  The next night Randy was out there again helping ANOTHER couple in site 25!  This time an Airstream trailer door/ lock wouldn’t work and they couldn’t get in.  The woman finally went in and out through a window but they still couldn’t open the door.  They eventually did get the door to open but then couldn’t get it to reliably open/close/ lock.   Randy assisted for over an hour last night in finding a temporary solution to getting their door/lock functional until they can get the issue fixed.    The site is jinxed – avoid it!)


In Green River we spent time at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. Powell was a one-armed former civil war officer who led an expedition along the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869. The Colorado River area was the last unexplored area in the US and maps designated it as such.


Powell’s  first expedition had boat and rapids challenges and lost much of their provisions. Three members left and were killed by Paiute Indians. The expedition became one of survival (Mormon settlers assisted them with food) but they eventually became the first to traverse the Grand Canyon by boat.

Powell later led a second expedition that focused on scientific, photographic and mapping goals. Many of the canyons and landmarks along the Green and Colorado Rivers still bear the names given to them by Powell’s expeditions.  In reverse, modern day Lake Powell was named for him.


The terrific movie at the museum, Journey Into The Great Unknown, inspired us to float the Grand Canyon too! Let’s add some Utah-Arizona intrigue to the mix….


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There’s No Place Like….Kansas


We got Iowa, Missouri and Kansas on this trip!

Dorothy said “There’s no place like home” about her Kansas farm but I didn’t feel the same about my Kansas home. I lived 2 years in Salina while in high school, but routed us through Hutchinson and Dodge City instead.  Tourism over sentiment!

There are eight Wonders of Kansas and two of them are in Hutchinson. We started with the Strataca Salt Mine Museum.

fullsizeoutput_4023Formed when the Permian Sea evaporated 275 million years ago, a massive salt layer spreads across 27,000 square miles of central Kansas.  While looking for oil, a developer found salt.  Mining began in 1923 and continues to this day. The active and previously mined sections cover 1000 acres and include 160 miles of tunnels.

More than half of the current production is sold to Chicago as road salt with the rest going to other states and municipalities for the same purpose. A small amount is used in livestock feed.

We descended 650 feet to the Strataca Museum where you tour areas worked in the 1950s. There is a self guided portion, a train ride, and two shuttles through different sections of the mine.


6000 pounds of salt crystal

fullsizeoutput_4029Much of the salt in Strataca has brown and red veins – good for roads but not for tables.

fullsizeoutput_402dWe were able to choose salt pieces to take home – or in our case, to our grandson.



fullsizeoutput_402cWe saw interesting artifacts including gloves from the 1940s with double thumbs. To accommodate war time shortages, gloves were made to be used one way and, when the palm was worn, reversed to use the back side.   Miner gear, boxes and garbage are museum artifacts and not disturbed.

fullsizeoutput_402eBecause it was costly and time consuming to remove, and there was plenty of room,  miners left garbage piles.  These give additional perspective on mine history.   The pile above had a partially eaten sandwich from the 1950s.


There are thousands of discarded dynamite boxes left in the mine. All are in perfect condition, as though they were used yesterday.


These boxes were stacked to block an old tunnel with intention to divert air flow.  Miners marked each section with the month and year it was active, initially with carbide and later with paint.  These are still visible.

The salt mine environment is perfect for preserving garbage, boxes and valuables because there are no critters or moisture. There is a constant 70 degree temperature.

fullsizeoutput_4030After the Monuments Men recovered art the Nazis had hidden in European salt mines, a new business was incorporated here in 1959.  Underground Vaults and Storage holds original Hollywood films (including The Wizard of Oz), costumes and props. They also store medical,  financial and insurance records from around the country.  State governments’ and other nations governments’ records are stored here.    It is big business with 65 employees, 2 shifts and nearly 1.7 million square feet of storage – with lots of room to grow!


There was a whole wall of salt quotes – this was my favorite!



fullsizeoutput_4035Randy visited Cosmosphere, the second Wonder of Kansas in Hutchinson. It is an affiliate of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. He spent four hours at Cosmosphere and said he barely scratched the surface.


Looking inside a Saturn 1B Rocket Nozzle!


The outside of the rocket nozzle.

The Cosmophere has extensive history and artifacts detailing how German rocket technology developed, came to America after WWII, and factored into the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

fullsizeoutput_4038   The Apollo 13 Command Module is at Cosmosphere!  “Houston, we have a problem.”



Eventually, we moseyed across the prairie to Dodge.  Dodge City began as a location for  buffalo traders and became a hub for western cattle drives.  It also became infamous for gunfights, saloons, gambling halls and brothels, including the Long Branch Saloon.



We enjoyed a sarsaparilla and a show at the Long Branch Saloon.


In the rough years between 1872-78 known and unknown folks were buried on the hill above Dodge. Several were buried with their boots on, thus the name Boot Hill.

Today the Boot Hill Museum sits on the former cemetery.  (The residents were moved.)

fullsizeoutput_404fThe museum recreated Front Street including the shops and saloons present in 1870.


We saw a gunfight, but Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson weren’t around.

fullsizeoutput_4060Neither was Matt Dillon.  There are pictures and artifacts of Gunsmoke but the museum focuses on the real history of Dodge City, not the TV version.

The next time we wander into Kansas, maybe I’ll be drawn to the old home town.  Or maybe we’ll catch the remaining six Wonders of Kansas!



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Independence: Truman and Trails

We were here for the Mariners-Royals baseball game and the RV park in Independence was the closest to the stadium. We knew a little about Independence. Most western migration left from Independence and Harry Truman was from here but we were all about the baseball game. And some Kansas City BBQ!

Our first dinner was at A Little BBQ Joint and it was a great meal!

fullsizeoutput_4006We were hesitant to go to the Truman Library and Home since we had been so impressed with the Lincoln versions in Springfield. How could Truman even begin to compare? Despite the lure of Kansas City attractions,  we decided to focus our activities in Independence. And we are glad.  Truman held his own!

Harry S. Truman, our 33rd president, is everywhere in Independence.  This was his home before going to Washington to serve as Senator, Vice President and President and then again until his death. We spent a whole day immersed in everything Truman visiting the county courthouse, the Truman Library and the Truman Home.

fullsizeoutput_3feaHarry grew up in the area and worked in the Clinton Soda Shop as a youth earning $3 a week. (We had lunch and ice-cream there!)  He tried a variety of jobs over the years with little success until he became Jackson County Judge – what we’d consider a county commissioner.

Harry met and fell for Bess when he was six and she was five. They eventually married and moved into her family home. He ran for the US Senate and served 10 years, returning to Independence whenever possible.

fullsizeoutput_4009When Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for his fourth term, Democratic powers questioned whether he would survive the term.  They handpicked Harry Truman as his new vice presidential candidate. Truman served 82 days as Vice President and met with Roosevelt just twice.

Truman inherited a world at war and, in 8 years as president, made decisions to drop atomic bombs on Japan, implement the Marshall Plan, mobilize airlifts during the Berlin Blockade, desegregate the US Armed Forces, be the first to recognize Israel and fire General Douglas McArthur.





fullsizeoutput_3ffeHe felt his most difficult decision was to enter the Korean conflict and his greatest regret was the inability to implement a national compulsory health insurance program.


When Medicare began under the Johnson administration, Harry and Bess got the first two cards.

fullsizeoutput_3ff6The White House was found to be structurally unsound during Truman’s term.  The interior was gutted and rebuilt in a three year project.

These are Harry and Bess Truman’s official portraits.   Bess’ original portrait is in the  Truman Home in Independence.  They took it with them and wouldn’t send it back.  A copy was made and is hanging in Washington, the only copy among originals.

When Harry and Bess returned to Independence, they had very modest means. He had a small military pension but past presidents did not yet receive a pension or secret service protection. Nevertheless, he was able to raise monies for the very first Presidential Library believing that papers and items of his presidency belonged to the people of the United States.

fullsizeoutput_3febThe library displays many of the 1300 letters he wrote to Bess over their years together.


Harry, Bess and their daughter Margaret are buried on the Library grounds.

Truman’s approval rating at the end of his presidency was 22%. History has been kind to his legacy. Rankings of presidents by historians have him as the sixth best president in US history.

fullsizeoutput_4004Continuing with Independence history, we visited the National Frontier Trails Museum. Most western migration left from Independence in the early and mid 1800s. This included travelers on the Santa Fe,  California and the Oregon Trails. We have a good working knowledge of the California and Oregon trails but were glad to learn about the Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe Trail was a commerce highway between Missouri and Santa Fe, Mexico (later New Mexico). It was a 3 month trip and merchants traveled both ways. Bent’s Fort, an adobe outpost,  was the largest permanent settlement between Missouri and Santa Fe. The trail became obsolete in 1880 with use of the railroad.

fullsizeoutput_4000The most surprising place we visited in Independence was The Community of Christ Temple. It has a very tall spire visible from all over town.

The Community of Christ was originally the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   When Joseph Smith was martyred in Nauvoo, Illinois (1844) his church splintered. Brigham Young took most of the believers to Utah. Several groups stayed in the midwest and eventually reorganized under Joseph Smith’s wife Emma and his son Joseph Smith III.

They have a shared history with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) but have evolved quite differently in belief and practice.


The cross is made of wood from each of the 60 countries with Community of Christ congregations.  The olive branches in the shape of a dove represent their mission of peace.

The Community of Christ’s world headquarters are in Independence, Missouri.  The tour was quite interesting and the temple very unique.

fullsizeoutput_401fOn our last evening in Independence, we went to the baseball game that brought us here.    Kauffman Field is beautiful but the Mariners came up short.


We went to the game with our campground neighbors Glynn and Judy from Arkansas.


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Missouri Oops!

Randy named the blog this time because he (we) had a pretty big Oops!   More on that later…

As we prepared to cross the western border leaving Illinois, I saw an interesting situation on the map.  We left Illinois, crossed over the Mississippi River and came into Missouri. The first city we came to was Louisiana. Kind of a weird four corners region!



And further down the road we came to the city of Mexico!  Nevada is around here somewhere!

fullsizeoutput_3fd2In spite of a GPS error, we made it to our campground and parked.  The ground was soft so Randy wanted to move the trailer slightly to position it better onto the gravel. That is when we had the Oops!  He backed into a tree. I was standing right there but didn’t expect him to go back that far so I share the blame.  Oops!

P1120141My fear, as I ran back to see the damage, was the condition of the big window but it and our trailer structure were fine.

fullsizeoutput_3fbfThe bikes, bike rack and ladder took the damage! The ladder and bike rack will be replaced. We both need new wheels.  Randy will likely replace his bike as he’s wanted to anyway. Overall, a pretty lucky Oops!

fullsizeoutput_3fd1However, the damage to our bikes meant we couldn’t ride the Katy Trail, the longest Rails to Trails route in the country at 225 miles in length.   The trail uses the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) railroad corridor developed in 1872.

fullsizeoutput_3fd3Franklin Junction served as a prominent railroad site from 1893 until World War II.   The line had diminished use mid-century and was discontinued in the 1980s.  The railroad grade became a Rails to Trails route in the 1990s.   Our campground is on the old junction site.

The crash de-railed potential biking but did result in us meeting our campground neighbors.   They came by to see what happened!  While visiting, we learned about their Vintage Trailer!


fullsizeoutput_3fc1Janet wanted a project so she bought a very rough 1964 PlayMor Trailer for $50. She spent $3800 refurbishing it and did a great job! It was Janet’s project but her husband Joe helped a bit.  Another vintage trailer refurbishment is in the works!


P1120005We met this guy patrolling the campground – Randall Mathews of the New Franklin Police Department.    He and my Randy Matthews chatted and compared notes.  He told us the definitive answer on whether to say Missour-EE or Missour-UH.   North of I-70 the state is called Missour-EE and south of I-70 it is Missour-UH.

So all of this happened in our first afternoon and evening and I haven’t even mentioned the reason we came to this neck of the Missouri woods.   We came to see the Budweiser Clydesdales at Warm Springs Ranch!

fullsizeoutput_3fc6There are five Budweiser Clydesdale ranches but all breeding is done here in Boonville, Missouri.


Stallions are brought in “on assignment” from other Clydsdale breeders around the country for three year terms.   Outside stallions brings new DNA into the herd.

fullsizeoutput_3fcb This is Stan (named for St. Louis Cardinals’ Stan Musial), born and raised on the ranch.   When full grown he will be about 18 hands and weigh 2000 pounds.  He has the desired Budweiser Clydsdale look – bay color, black mane and tail, white blaze on the forehead and white socks.


The socks are washed and combed but trim happens naturally.

Mares are bred in their third year and deliver 11 months later. Each mare will deliver 7-10 foals in her career. The mares live their entire lives at the ranch.  About 40 foals are born each year.

fullsizeoutput_3fcdThis is Otto. He was born June 7 weighing 125 pounds and standing 3 1/2 feet tall.  Otto was walking around when our tour went through the barn but when we went back 5 minutes later he was napping! Otto will feed on his mama for six months and then be weaned to depend less on milk and more on hay and grains.   (All Budweiser Clydesdales eat Timothy Hay from Eden, Idaho. It is shipped throughout the year to each of the ranches and to all performance locations.)

Foals and yearlings enjoy expansive pastures and undergo light training. Two year old geldings begin more intensive hitch training and eventually go to the New Hampshire ranch for hitch “finishing school.”

fullsizeoutput_3fd7Hitch trained Clydesdales get assignments to one of three regional ranches: – Fort Collins Colorado, St. Louis, Missouri and Merrimack, New Hampshire.

fullsizeoutput_3fccFrom their home ranch, teams of 10 horses (8 pullers and 2 alternates) travel across the region for hundreds of performances. Budweiser has strict guidelines for travel (breaks after 2 hours and no more than 500 miles per day) and stabling. They have their own portable stable if there aren’t local stables meeting their specifications.

Each Hitch team uses three semi-trucks to transport the horses, handlers,  wagon and equipment.  Once on site, it takes the six handler crew four to five hours to groom the horses, equipment and wagons to exacting detail.

fullsizeoutput_3fc9We came away very impressed with the whole operation and especially the “cradle to grave” care for the horses.  After a work life of 8-12 years, horses retire on one of the company ranches or at a handler’s ranch.  Either way, it seems good to be a Budweiser Clydesdale!


We had a great time on our tour and recommend it highly but plan ahead as it is’t an easy ticket to get.


The free beer was good too! 




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Lincoln: Play Dixie For Me

fullsizeoutput_3f77We rolled into the Land of Lincoln and to the campground at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

fullsizeoutput_3f74The grounds are massive and it has been interesting to walk around and see the preparations for the fair beginning August 10.

fullsizeoutput_3f75This is the poultry barn,  just one of many  large, beautiful buildings for animal groupings.


fullsizeoutput_3f76Randy discovered a different “animal” grouping while looking at an electric vehicle charging station!  He disturbed a hornets nest when he removed the charging handle and got swarmed and stung.  The next day he destroyed the nest and was able to replace the handle.

But we didn’t come for the fair, we came to Springfield to be immersed in everything Abraham Lincoln.



Lincoln is everywhere!

We visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Lincoln’s Home National Historic Site, Lincoln’s Tomb and Union Station.



Here we are with Abraham, Mary, Robert, Tad and Willie.

There were two excellent video productions about Lincoln and the Lincoln Library. Ghosts of the Library (in Holavision) was SO amazing that we thought the narrator was a real person! The picture shows the set – no pictures allowed of the actual performance.

fullsizeoutput_3f83Lincoln’s life and death are shown in full size dioramas but the museum adds much depth to the man and President we thought we knew.



We all know Lincoln grew up in a log cabin and taught himself to read by firelight.


He worked in a general store and became a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois. 

fullsizeoutput_3f88 But did you know Lincoln had two sweethearts before Mary Todd and that they were engaged twice before they married? Mary came from a wealthy family who were opposed to her engagement to someone beneath her social standing. She eventually married him regardless.

P1110879They had four sons and had a permissive style of child rearing. He said “It is my pleasure that my children are free, happy and unrestrained by parental tyranny.”

fullsizeoutput_3f89In 1858 Lincoln debated Senator Douglas seven times as candidate for the United States Senate.  Lincoln lost the election (as he did many before that) but the resulting publicity made him a viable candidate for President in 1860.


The museum had several walls of campaign and election brutality!

Lincoln was assaulted in the press. The Wilmington Daily Journal declared him “by all odds the weakest man ever elected. He is vain, weak, sterile, hypocritical, without manners…. is beneath contempt in every particular, morally and mentally.”  Of course we know better now!

The Civil War began soon after Lincoln’s first inauguration.  Year after year of war was hard.  Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address and wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.


Lincoln wrote The Emancipation Proclamation himself but worked with his cabinet on timing its release.  Opinions on when, and whether to do it at all, varied.


fullsizeoutput_3f91The proclamation was released in a variety of forms and the museum has several examples.  An opinion in the Chicago Times stated  “…it will be known in all history as the most wicked, atrocious and revolting deed recorded in the annals of civilization.”   Not quite, as the proclamation was furthered in the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

fullsizeoutput_3f92A sobering movie shows the Civil War, including battles, territory modifications and casualties, in four minutes.   One week of war is represented each second.

fullsizeoutput_3f93The War Gallery allows you to select a photo on a matching video display and learn more about the person or persons depicted in the wall photo.

fullsizeoutput_3fa8With the war in its final days, Lee had surrendered but all hostilities had not yet ceased, Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth.  Lincoln’s body made several stops on the way home to Springfield.

fullsizeoutput_3f9aThis photograph of Lincoln lying in state was taken in New York City on April 24, 1865. Mary Lincoln felt it was disrespectful and Secretary of War Stanton ordered all plates and negatives confiscated and destroyed. A single print was sent to Stanton who sent it to a former Lincoln secretary years later.  The photo was found in 1952.



In Springfield, Lincoln’s body was entombed here temporarily.



Lincoln’s Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery, the final resting place

fullsizeoutput_3fabThe remains of Abraham, Mary and the three sons who died young, Eddy, Willie and Tad, are all in the Lincoln Tomb complex. Their first son, Robert, lived a full life and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at the request of his wife.

fullsizeoutput_3f9bWe also visited Lincoln’s Home National Historical Site – the only home Lincoln ever owned. The family lived there for 17 years before moving to Washington DC. There are furnishings the Lincoln family actually owned and others that are similar.

The house is accurately represented because there were drawings commissioned by a newspaper when Lincoln became President.


The door bell and hat rack are original to the house. 

fullsizeoutput_3fa0Mary Lincoln’s stove is original to the house. She liked it so well that she considered taking it to the White House.

fullsizeoutput_3f9eThe bed in Abraham Lincoln’s bedroom is not original but the wallpaper is an exact replica based on protected sections that were found.

P1110938We visited Union Station where, when leaving Springfield for Washington,  Lincoln  said  “Here I have lived a quarter of a century and have passed from a young to an old man.”

Today the station holds sets and memorabilia from Steven Speilberg’s movie Lincoln. Speilberg strove for authenticity. He coordinated with the Lincoln museum and library, even obtaining a sound clip of Lincoln’s law office clock ticking.

In considering a title for this blog, I thought of familiar phrases like “…dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…”  or “Now he belongs to the ages” as spoken by Secretary of War Stanton upon Lincoln’s death.

Instead I decided on a phrase we just learned about. Lincoln, the man who said “with malice towards none and charity for all” also said “Play Dixie For me.”    He was visiting Richmond just after it fell and asked the band to “Play Dixie for me.”   He said “It is good to show the Rebels, that with us in charge, they will be free to hear it again.”   This exemplifies President Abraham Lincoln as he contemplated putting the nation back together again.









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Indiana One Nighters

fullsizeoutput_3f50We had a frenzy of one nighters in Indiana! Our fist night was spent at Indiana Dunes State Park on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.

fullsizeoutput_3f4fIndiana Dunes is the most visited state park in Indiana and it surely qualified the night we were there!

fullsizeoutput_3f4aWhen we traveled in the area last year we were disappointed at how little public access there was because so much lakeside property is privately owned.  This time our campground was within walking distance.


Chicago’s skyline is visible across Lake Michigan.

The next day we went to the MorRyde factory in Elkhart.  This factory was the reason we embarked on this 5 week jaunt across country in the muggy and busy summer! We have had axle alignment issues on our trailer for years and have been chewing through tires. Randy was convinced that installing an independent suspension system would solve our problem.

He was reluctant to put on new tires before the installation so we came across country on poor tires.  He rotated in the spare in Wyoming and our Tire Pressure Monitoring System chose these past two weeks to stop working.  There were some anxious moments as we rolled along the horrible roads in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. He kept telling me we would get there and, thankfully, he was right.


We were so happy to get to the factory and set up in the parking lot!

fullsizeoutput_3f47At 6:00 the next morning the transition from Dexter axles to a MorRyde independent suspension began.

fullsizeoutput_3f44We drove two hours south to Indianapolis and spent the day and night with our friend Rosa. It was wonderful to see her!    How do we know so many people in the midwest?



A MorRyde independent suspension!

When we arrived back in Elkhart the new suspension system was installed and being aligned.  Our new G-rated tires were in place.  The technician told Randy that he and his partner’s eyes really popped when one of our old tires came apart when he tried to take it off the rim.  They had not seen that happen before.  We just BARELY got there!


The installer also told us he could see what the problem had been with our axles. Someone had bent them by raising the trailer on the axle tubes.  A huge mistake. It likely happened replacing our first set of tires or having our bearings packed as we had continual problems after that. Randy was not pleased that four supposedly reputable alignment shops could not determine that the bent axles were the problem.

fullsizeoutput_3f41At any rate, it took 2500 miles, two weeks of travel, and two days of work but we were ready to roll! Randy was very pleased with the process and the installation. He could immediately feel the difference in how the trailer responded.

At our first stop, Randy found rubbing on one of the cosmetic fenders caused by the very slight difference in suspension height. He trimmed it to allow more room as the suspension accommodates the road. Easily resolved.

We started our three week trek home by driving 120 miles southwest to Indiana’s newest state park, Prophetstown.   It is a very lovely state park in the Indiana grasslands with a nice campground, waterpark, bike trails, small scale working farm and an Indian village.


Prophetstown was named for an Indian settlement that was here from 1808 – 1811.  Shawnee leader Tekumseh and his brother the “prophet” organized a confederation of tribes intent on stopping western expansion.

William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, recognized the danger of Tecumseh’s plan. He brought troops to the area and the Battle of Tippecanoe took place on November 7, 1811. Thirty-seven soldiers and an unknown number of Indians were killed in the battle. The next day Prophets town was raided and destroyed.

One of the soldier combatants, John Tipton, acquired the battlefield land in 1829 and donated it to the state of Indiana in 1836. The constitution of the state includes a mandate to enclose and preserve the Tippecanoe battlefield.


There is a monument to William Henry Harrison and soldiers as well as headstones for the officers.


fullsizeoutput_3f39Known by the name Old Tippecanoe, William Henry Harrison ran for president in 1840.  His running mate was John Tyler and that familiar slogan was coined!


Harrison was elected the ninth President of the United States defeating incumbent Martin VanBuren. After serving only 30 days, Harrison became the first president to die in office.

After only five days we leave Indiana tomorrow.  This afternoon we ate lunch at White Castle, a familiar but unknown entity for us westerners!


fullsizeoutput_3f2dWe tried a combination of beef, chicken, and chicken-waffle sliders. The french fries and the chicken-waffle were really good! The rest was unremarkable, perhaps an acquired taste. But what do we know?


We may not know “sliders”, but we know this is a clever sign in Indiana!  Next up – Illinois!






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Iowa Sticker: Earned and Enjoyed

fullsizeoutput_3efbOur map has had an empty spot where Iowa should be for almost a year. When we met Rick and Diana in Arizona, they invited us to come visit them in Iowa and earn our sticker. So we did!


fullsizeoutput_3ef6We went to dinner with Rick and Diana (center) and their friends Richard and CarolAnn and had a nice visit. After spending the night, our personal criteria for “earning” a sticker, we put it on!

fullsizeoutput_3efcWe actually “earned” our Iowa sticker in other ways too. As soon as we crossed the Nebraska-Iowa border the condition of I-80 worsened dramatically. The road was bumpy and paved such that it was very noisy.  The road and tires screamed at us for 125 miles.  Lots of states get reputations for bad roads – Iowa will be one for us!


This was a great campground – lots of grass and surrounded by cornfields!

We also found “hot and humid” in Iowa! Even the locals were saying it was worse than normal.  Of course, summer in the midwest means thunderstorms and tornado warnings.  We had those too.  Yes, we earned that sticker in several ways!

But we also enjoyed Iowa!

fullsizeoutput_3effWe were able to spend a morning with our friend Elaine. We have been close friends with her daughter’s family in Boise for many years and over time we got to know Elaine as well. It was a joy to stop in and have a nice breakfast and visit.

fullsizeoutput_3f28From the same family in Boise, we also saw Christina and met her husband Andrew and their Petey. Who knew we could have so much fun seeing people in Iowa that we know from other places!

fullsizeoutput_3f18We enjoyed visiting the Amana Colonies, a national historical landmark. There are actually seven Amana villages that comprise a once communal religious community.

The predecessors of the Amanans broke from the Lutheran Church during the Piety movement in the 1700s. They became known as the Community of True Inspiration and gathered in Germany. In 1842 they came to America and and settled in New York. In 1855 they moved to Iowa, seeking more land to support approximately 1200 members.


One of the Amana colony churches.

The church members purchased land and developed seven communal villages surrounding many thousands of acres of land.  Life revolved around the church at the center of each community with 11 services weekly.


Women on one side, men on the other.  The elders face the congregation from their own simple bench.  The church still follows these traditions today.

Each member had work or school and their efforts supported the community which in turn provided for all their needs including  food, shelter, and medical care.

fullsizeoutput_3f0aMeals were prepared in communal kitchens, each feeding 35-40 people, three meals and two breaks per day.



Men sat at one table, the women at another.

Kitchens were supplied from the village bakery, smokehouse, meat shop, gardens and orchards.


For people who were ill, or families who wanted to eat together, food could be taken from the kitchen and warmed up again at home with these portable burners.


Members received credit at the general store for their personal choice items.

In 1932 the Amana Colonies went through the “Great Change.” The members abandoned communal living and switched to a structure where some assets were owned by individuals, some by the church and the rest by the Amana Society. All members were stockholders in the Amana society.

That arrangement still exists today. The Amana Woolen Mill, Furniture Shop, General Stores and Meathouses are owned by the society and employ members for salary. The same is true of the farmlands.

fullsizeoutput_3f08Amana Appliances was established after the great change, provided good employment, and is now owned by Whirlpool.

fullsizeoutput_3f10We learned that residents are buried in chronological order with the same simple headstones and pine caskets (made in the Amana Furniture Store).   There are no family plots. You are buried between the persons who died before and after you.

There are 400 historic buildings remaining in the seven villages utilized for businesses and homes.  Many are owned by residents who can trace their families back to the founding generation but it is not a closed society. Anyone can live and work in the Amana Colonies but the Amana society has right of first refusal on the sale of historic buildings or stock shares, a right rarely exercised.

Currently, tourism is a significant industry for the Amana Colonies and everything is well appointed for lodging, shopping and entertainment.    We enjoyed ourselves very much.

During our stay we ate at both German restaurants and a brewhaus. We enjoyed the German food (especially the potato dumplings) but what we liked best was pure Iowa – deep fried sweet corn nuggets!


German beer pretzel and deep fried sweet corn nuggets.  We liked the corn nuggets so much that we went back a second time.


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