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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Ordinary Americana – Worth the Trip

Like the pioneers of western migration, we are traversing the Great Platt River Road but we are doing it in reverse, going east instead of west, and on Interstate 80 instead of a flat river plain.  At an interstate rest area we saw an exhibit where wagon ruts had been covered and commemorated in brick.

The topography is very different in Nebraska than in our home state of Idaho but an advantage of the barren west is that Oregon Trail ruts are still visible more than 150 years later. We have seen miles of ruts thanks to our friend Jerry who has a passion for the Oregon Trail and took us on field trips over many years.


Our daughter Natasha and friends Christina and Elizabeth walking Oregon Trail ruts, circa 1995.

Our eastern migration destination for this day was Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska. It holds the country’s largest private collection of “Americana.” Opened in the 1950’s, Pioneer Village was awarded “Best Pioneer History Collection” in 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2017! We were prepared to be impressed!

fullsizeoutput_3ecaWhen we arrived at the Pioneer Village campground, we were not impressed.  After roaming the mostly abandoned motel grounds to find the office, our expectations were plummeting.

We checked in (after signing the required damage waiver) and found our site.

While I spent time picking up trash, Randy hooked us into very suspect looking utilities. (In fairness, the utilities worked great. The electricity was stable through a thunderstorm our first night and through the hot and muggy next day.)

It’s good that we are self contained because restrooms were unavailable.

fullsizeoutput_3ec6The site turned out alright once you got past the very rough first impressions.

fullsizeoutput_3ecdWe spent most of a day exploring the vast collection of Americana (over 50,000 items) in Pioneer Village.  I appreciated that groupings were displayed chronologically – and there were groupings of SO MANY THINGS!


There was a huge collection of salt and pepper shakers!  My grandmother collected salt and pepper shakers and I found a couple that she had in her collection.


This is a dog powered washing machine.  We’d never make Elko work for our clean clothes!

There were old computers and a punch-card reader just like Randy used at Northern Arizona University about 1980.


We skipped most of the farm equipment and antique tractors.  There was just too much to see.


fullsizeoutput_3ecfWe didn’t skip the wagons, buggies and automobiles  but couldn’t possibly give them all their due because there were so many of them – over 350 autos displayed chronologically.

We had just had a conversation about how many cars there were that we had never heard of when we saw a 1978 poster listing 2600 U.S. automakers operating between 1898 and 1978. Only eleven companies manufactured automobiles for more than 40 years. Those eleven were Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Lincoln, Mercury(2011), Oldsmobile (2004), Plymouth (2001) and Pontiac (2010) and the dated ones have since discontinued.


Interesting add-on air-conditioner from the 1950s!


1950 Kitchen

My favorite part of the village is the displayed kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms across generations between 1830 and 1980!  Every actual sized room had so much detail.


1930 bedroom

Randy’s favorite part of the museum was just the fact that Harold Warp and his family went to so much effort to gather and present “ordinary aspects of American life for future generations to understand and enjoy.”

Harold Warp was a plastics pioneer. His company invented Jiffy Wrap and was the first to make plastic garbage bags. Products were marketed as Flex-O-Glass and Warp Plastics.

His goal was to preserve articles that made America grow and he traveled the country for decades purchasing and collecting the artifacts now on display.  He has since passed away and a private non-profit continues the mission.

Reviews on Trip Advisor for Pioneer Village were very good but a few expressed concern over the condition of the village.  It was somewhat confusing until we experienced it ourselves. We totally agree.  Pioneer Village is absolutely worth the trip because the collection is marvelous –  but you may want to come sooner rather than later.



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Nebraska: The Good Life

We were glad to get moving again after our truck problem but the last day in Wyoming was still stressful. Randy was concerned enough about our tires on the trailer to change one out for the spare and rotate the others.  Irregular and accelerated tire wear is the whole reason for our planned suspension change in Elkhart – we just have to get there!

fullsizeoutput_3eadWe were so glad to see that when we crossed the border into Nebraska we were headed for the good life! We’re not asking for a whole good life in Nebraska, just a few days with interesting things to do, no tire drama, no scary storms and safe passage into Iowa.


Like the 250,000 people who traveled through the area during western migration, we marveled at Chimney Rock.  Natives in the area named the rock “Elk Penis” but Anglo-Americans preferred “Chimney Rock.” Emigrants on the California, Mormon and Oregon trails came by here to travel the south pass through the Rocky Mountains.  Chimney Rock was a prominent landmark and often featured in drawings and diaries.


Chimney Rock is not actually rock but is Brule Clay.  It stands 360 feet tall.

P1110461We were surprised to step outside in the evening and see Chimney Rock illuminated!


Carhenge is another landmark of interest in the area, but it is man-made!

fullsizeoutput_3eab Jim Reinder spent years working in England and wanted to built a version of Stonehenge for his hometown of Alliance, Nebraska. Twenty five cars were collected and Carhenge rose in six days at a Reinder family reunion in 1987.

P1110429This Jeep was driven 1000 miles by its owner to be part of Carhenge.


The very clever introduction video said the lawyer in the family finally caught his ambulance and donated it to Carhenge.

P1110430The good citizens of Alliance were not enthralled with Carhenge at first but have embraced the site over time. The Friends of Carhenge have built additional auto art.

Over time, four of the original 25 cars, those of Japanese origin, were removed and replaced with American cars. The Japanese cars were allowed to “rust in peace.”  Carhenge was named Trip Advisor’s Top Family Attraction for Nebraska in 2016.

While enroute to Carhenge we saw storm damage northeast of Bayard.   A tornado swept through the area on June 12, 2017.   We are thankful there were no deaths or serious injuries and hope that all of the people effected by the tornado will soon be living the good life in Nebraska once again. A very impressive video of the tornado and damage is available here.


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Diverted and Delayed

As you can tell from the title, we have had an unexpected adventure. The situation is resolved as I write, but l’ll tell the tale chronologically.

Before we left Boise we had an intermittent noise in the truck engine and took it in to be checked out. They couldn’t reproduce the noise so we departed Boise Monday morning after Randy’s treatment.  Destination was Elkhart, Indiana and back by August 15.

The noise got worse and more consistent as we pulled the trailer to Idaho Falls. We were visiting Idaho Falls because it was a reasonable day’s travel from Boise, Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant is there, as is the Museum of Idaho.

fullsizeoutput_3e7dWe have been to the Museum of Idaho twice before,  weekend trips from Boise, to see traveling exhibits on Egyptology and the Titanic. This time the exhibit was about Space Voyage, one of Randy’s passions.

Randy found the exhibit very interesting but it was mostly beyond me since space travel is not one of my passions. I found some low tech tidbits that interested me such as the last minute save on the first lunar landing. With only 30 seconds of fuel remaining and ignoring alarms, Neil Armstrong took manual control of the Eagle to avoid crashing into a lunar boulder field, and barely made it to the “Sea of Tranquility.” (Randy already knew that.) Salt and pepper are a liquid in space because the solid particles float around causing problems for astronauts and equipment. Earth’s gravity escape velocity  is 25,000 miles per hour.


My 139 pounds on earth equals 24.5 pounds on the moon and 47 pounds on Mars.

We look comfortably plump in these infrared scans!  I don’t know why.

Following our museum visit and lunch at Garcia’s, Randy took the truck to a Ford diesel mechanic AGAIN. The mechanic thought the problem was either the turbocharger or exhaust manifolds. Saying neither would damage the engine in the short term, we kept on toward Boulder, Wyoming to see cousins Marilyn and Lynn and their new cabin.



Climbing boulders near Boulder, Wyoming!


There were two highly competitive games of Aggravation!

We had a nice time with Marilyn and Lynn and their cabin is beautiful.

Back to our adventure…  During our first day in Boulder the truck noise got worse. The Check Engine light came on and we decided Randy should take the truck to Rock Springs, 90 minutes south, to get it diagnosed and fixed.


The largest, longest sites ever!  

We were concerned about pulling the trailer given the truck situation so the trailer, Elko and I stayed at the very nice RV Park in Boulder.



The service department in Rock Springs worked us in and looked at our truck Thursday morning. They were uncertain if the problem was only the exhaust manifolds or the manifolds and the turbocharger. They began manifold work right away but could not determine the state of the turbocharger until that work was done. If it was just the manifolds they could be done on Friday, if it was both we would been staying around until Tuesday.

Both of those scenarios were better than getting stranded on the side of the road if the truck broke down who knows where with us needing to get a tow for both the truck and the trailer.

fullsizeoutput_3e9fThe Ford dealership loaned Randy a truck so we had transportation back and forth to the cabin and back and forth to Rock Springs. Randy has been very pleased with their service. As I write Friday afternoon, Randy is on the way back from Rock Springs with our truck, the fourth 90 minute trip he has taken in 2 days.

Unfortunately, our extended warranty was well over the mileage expiration (not the date expiration we were planning on) so this repair is on our own dime – or dollar – or thousands of dollars.   $2162 to be precise – $1500 in labor, and miscellaneous other charges, to replace $26 in gaskets!   But, it is presumably fixed and we can be on our way tomorrow with just slight changes to our route and schedule.

Unfortunately for Randy, the first 90 minutes are again south through Rock Springs!

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From Penalty Box to Blessing Box

Cancer treatments be damned – We have had a great time visiting our old lives in Boise. Our stay here turned from penalty box to blessing box. Our “peeps” in Boise have turned on the support for us in a big way and we are very grateful.   It has been a blessing to be here during this time and we have had a blast!

Mondays (treatment days) weren’t really a blast but neither have they been a big deal. Randy had one very uncomfortable treatment but the other four were easy. He had to stay home on Monday afternoons, but that just gave us a chance to rest.

He has not felt sick at all, either from the cancer, or the treatments. He has been able to golf and go to lunch, play with Archer…and fix things! I have been able to see friends, help with Vacation Bible School and line dance. Together we have seen friends, played games, gone to movies and baseball games.


We went with friends John and Deb to Silver City, an old mining town a couple hours southwest of Boise. About 70 buildings remain from the 1870’s heyday. All are privately owned with most utilized as summer cabins.

Silver City, Idaho 7-72 206

Photograph from the Silver City website, unattributed photographer.

The fanciest building in town, the Stoddard Mansion, was in rough shape the last time we were in Silver City, roughly 15 years ago.  It was an unexpected surprise to be able to see the inside of this 1870 home courtesy of the person who owned it at the time.


The Stoddard Mansion is looking grand after purchase and renovation by a Boise family.

This Silver City church was originally built as St. James Episcopal Church.  The building was purchased for one dollar in 1933 and became Our Lady of Tears Catholic Church.

There is something about outhouses in Silver City….members only, by appointment only and double deckers!


We weren’t sure if this “car” was a toy or a homemade (once) working vehicle.


This car’s engine and crank shaft were utilized in the mining operation.

fullsizeoutput_3e22We walked by Deadman’s Alley, so named because of the gunfight death of Joseph Koenig by Colonel Dewey. The alley was also the demarkation between Silver City’s Chinatown and the business district.


We did not hear if Colonel Dewey ended up in the Silver City jail.

fullsizeoutput_3e41It seems all old mining towns or ghost towns have a cemetery.  Most graves were very old and a disproportionate number were for children and women.

fullsizeoutput_3e25There were a number of fenced plots by Stewart Iron Works of Cincinnati, Ohio. I wondered how iron works from Cincinnati end up in the remote Owyhee mountains of Idaho. That thought meant I had research  to do on Stewart Iron Works.

fullsizeoutput_3e35Begun in 1862, Stewart Iron Works specializes in metal artistry. The company is still in business and has a vast array of past projects, foreign and domestic. The following information came from the Stewart Iron website:

“Stewart Iron created all of the benches and site amenities for New York City’s Central Park, the light fixtures in Congress, the fencing and gates surrounding the Panama Canal, and the jail cells for such notorious prisons as Alcatraz, Sing-Sing, and Leavenworth…. Stewart cornered the market on cemetery fencing across America…. and merged with US Motor Trucks ultimately manufacturing all of the heavy duty trucks used by the US Army during WWI.”

There is always something to learn!

As used to be our summer tradition, we went to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, also with John and Deb.   We saw Hamlet, not for the first time, and were amazed at how many commonly used quotes and figures of speech come from that play. Below is a partial list:

To be or not to be…that is the question
Neither a borrower nor a lender be
Though this be madness, there is method in it
What a piece of work is man
This above all, To thine own self be true
Frailty, thy name is woman
In my minds eye
Make your hair stand on end
Primrose path
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark
O’ Woe is me
Get thee to a nunnery
The Lady doth protest too much

As much as we appreciate our Boise friends, we also have Road friends and were glad to be able to visit with two couples this last week.

fullsizeoutput_3e3cTeri and Mark are volunteering near LaGrande, Oregon. Their primary duty is to rehabilitate the Ladd Marsh volunteer site that hasn’t been used in several years.


We want to see if they can also rehabilitate this riding mower that has been enveloped in a pack-rat’s nest!

fullsizeoutput_3e29We also saw fellow Umpqua Lighthouse State park volunteer friends, Jess and Jean.   They are now at Farewell Bend State Park near Ontario, Oregon. It was great to visit with them again.

As much as we’ve enjoyed Boise, we are anxious to get on the road again. Randy has one more treatment in this cycle on Monday morning.  We are hoping to leave town that same day and head east to Elkhart, Indiana. We have a significant trailer repair to do in Elkhart,  lots of new places to explore, and friends to see on our five week trip.

My blogging fingers will need to step it up again!

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The Penalty Box

Randy’s bladder has us in the penalty box. We were suppose to be on a road trip this month but are back in Boise for Randy’s cancer treatments. Even though we enjoyed living in Boise for many years, we don’t really want to be here so it feels like we are in the penalty box.

Randy marked the half way point in his first treatment cycle today. His treatments are interesting. They insert tuberculosis in saline into his bladder with a catheter. He keeps the fluid in for 2 hours and then voids it in the normal way. Side effects are generally flu like symptoms with a very slight chance of getting tuberculosis. There are some minor precautions to take so that I don’t get tuberculosis.

Overall he has done well with no side effects except a slight headache. His cancer was found very early so he doesn’t feel sick. Life is pretty normal except we are in our penalty box.

fullsizeoutput_3de2As we needed to stay home this afternoon for Randy to flush out his system by drinking lots of water, we took advantage of the hot weather to shampoo our carpets. It was nice that everything dried out quickly and we could turn on both air-conditioners!

As always, we are very glad to spend time with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson while in Boise.

fullsizeoutput_3dcaWe have been able to take Archer to the zoo, Chuck-E-Cheese and the playground. No telling what else we’ll experience with him this summer so that is a benefit.

We are spending time with our friends and that is definitely a benefit.

I’ve been able to connect with several of my teacher friends who are usually challenging to schedule when we are here in the spring and fall so that is a benefit.

We are grateful for our church family and friends everywhere who have been supportive with prayers and good wishes as we go through this process. We feel that benefit.

So we are in the penalty box – but a penalty box with benefits.


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