Saturday, October 31, 2020

Rocky Mountain High

    On a motorcycle trip several years ago Suzanne and I made a brief stop in Glenwood Springs, Colorado before heading south to Durango. In fact, over the years we've spent quite a bit of time in Colorado skiing and recreating. I once spent a sleepless week of skiing in Breckenridge - unable to acclimate to the 9000' base elevation. But other than that, we've very much enjoyed spending time in this part of the country. The Rocky Mountains rock! It says so right there in their name!


   It was about a 300 mile drive along I-70. We left Seibert, CO around 9:30am and arrived at Glenwood Canyon RV Resort at 2:30pm. 


   The sign read "Denver 75 mi" when the Rockies first appeared on the horizon - deceptively distant. Traffic got quite heavy as we approached the city limits but thinned out significantly once the 'mile high' capital was in our rearviews. 

   It's always a bit of a chug getting up and over the Continental Divide but the Tour's 450 Cummins propelled her 45,000 lbs., a couple thousand lbs. of cargo, our 5000 lb. Chevy Traverse, Suzanne, me and the dogs up to and through the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11,158' above sea level with barely a ten degree swing of the temp gauge needle. 

   View from the Frisco/Dillon Reservoir Overlook on I-70...


   Glenwood Canyon Resort is a wonderful RV park located just three miles from downtown Glenwood Springs and right on the Colorado River. Travis is dying to go in the water but the current is pretty swift and I'm sure the temperature is ice cold. 


   So, Glenwood Springs is known for a couple of things; its natural hot springs...

    ... and in May of 1887 it's where Doc Holliday came to 'take the waters' in an attempt to alleviate the debilitating effects of tuberculosis. He ended up dying here later that year on November 8th and is buried somewhere in Glenwood Spring's Linwood Cemetery Cemetery records were destroyed in a fire so nobody knows exactly where he's buried - but there's a small monument assuring us he is, indeed somewhere on the premises. Suzanne an I took the 0.8 mile out & back hike up the mountainside to visit his approximate grave site. 

   Also buried in Linwood Cemetery is Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry. His demise, an interesting story in itself.

   After visiting the cemetery (and how appropriate was that on Halloween??) Suzanne and I did some much needed grocery shopping at the local City Market before returning to the coach. I think I'm gonna do a shrimp stir fry a little later before we settle in to watch the 1943 horror classic, Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman on MeTV.

Thanks for checking out the blog. 
And Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 29, 2020

We're Not In Kansas Anymore!

   I forgot to mention in my last entry that US36 roughly follows the route of the Pony Express and we saw several roadside life-size metal cutouts and statues of Pony Express riders galloping westward during our drive. Also, US36 is one of the smoothest stretches of road we've ever traveled in the coach. There are some very rough sections of Interstate throughout the country and it was a pleasure to glide so smoothly along one of the lesser traveled secondary highways.


 So... we all know who shot Abraham Lincoln - but do you know who shot the man who shot Abraham Lincoln?

   His Name was Boston Corbett. After Lincoln's assassination Corbett's army regiment was sent to apprehend John Wilkes Booth. Booth was supposed to be taken alive but Corbett later claimed Booth aimed his carbine at him, prompting him to shoot Booth with his Colt revolver. Yeeeah.

   Well, that's not the end of the story. After his stint in the military, Corbett sorta went off the rails - making a series of ill-advised life decisions including self castration with a pair of scissors.                                   


  It's really kind of a fascinating story and you should take a few minutes to read his Wikipedia bio. 

  He relocated to the Kansas prairie, dug a hole in the ground and threatened to shoot locals he thought were disobeying God's will. Check out his story on Roadside America.  It's a hoot.

  So as it turns out, Rocky Pond Park, where we spent Tuesday & Wednesday nights, was just a hop, skip and a jump from the spot where the Boy Scouts of America erected a monument to the crazy bastard back in 1958. Etched in stone were directions to the Corbett hole: "60 yards due south". I'm a pretty fair judge of distance, but even with the aid of my compass app, neither Suzanne nor I was able to locate anything in the adjoining cow pasture resembling a man-made cranny. 

   But it was a fun adventure.


      What a great find Rocky Pond Park in Belleville, Kansas was. Wednesday afternoon Suzanne, Travis & I took a walk around the pond. It's really more of a small lake - part of a larger wetland area and home to a variety of water fowl and other winged creatures. Geese, multiple species of ducks, pelicans and gulls are all in residence. We came to a towering tree on the far side of the pond where a solitary bald eagle sat motionless in its uppermost branches, save for an occasional turn of his stately noggin, . We'll definitely stay here if we're ever in this neck of the woods again.


   Our destination today was Colby, Kansas, about 200 miles west of Belleville. A Wednesday evening internet search showed only two RV parks in the Colby area. It was too late to call for a reservation so we departed Belleville this morning confidant there would be a spot available at one of the two parks. What I didn't anticipate was that both parks would be closed for the winter. 
   After a few minutes of Googling and option assessment we decided to continue westward to a park we located in Seibert, Colorado - another 100 miles that-a-way on I-70. Yes, it was time to get back on the Interstate. 
   I was down to about a third of a tank of diesel fuel so before jumping on I-70 we fueled up at a Petro truck stop (saving $35 with my EFI fuel card).  
   Shady Grove RV Park isn't much to look at but the young couple who own it are very nice - and it's kind of the only place to spend the night for miles in either direction. We're in a full hookup site but with empty waste water tanks, a full fresh water tank and knowing I'll have a full hookup at the end of the day tomorrow in Glenwood Springs, CO, I opted to connect only to the 50 amp electrical service. 

Thanks for checking out the blog!


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

"The Strange Grave of John Milburn Davis"

   Roadside America is a very cool enterprise that publishes a book/website providing descriptions of and directions to odd and unusual locales along the highways and byways of our great country. We have the book (and access to the website, of course) and have made use of it several times during our many excursions. There are several such "curiosities" dotting the landscape along Kansas' Rt.36 - along which we motored today. 

   John Milburn Davis loved his wife very much. So grief stricken was he upon her demise that he commissioned a sculptor to create life-size marble likenesses of himself and his dearly departed wife of 50 years, Sarah, at different stages of their life together. The final scene is of John seated beside "The Vacant Chair" where Sarah would have sat. Very sad. John was a wealthy man but spent his entire life savings on the creation. Reportedly, his heirs were not amused.  


   Mt. Hope Cemetery in Hiawatha, KS is just a few minutes off Rt.36 and well worth the minor detour!     I love this kind of stuff.


       As I mentioned in yesterday's entry, today's destination was a small town park in Belleville, KS containing a handful of first-come-first-served RV sites. I also mentioned in my previous blog how disappointed we were in Beacon RV Park in St. Joseph where we spent Sunday & Monday nights. As a result, I didn't have very high hopes for Belleville's Rocky Pond Park - but to the degree Beacon fell woefully short of expectations, Rocky Pond Park far exceeded them. It's a beautiful little park on a lovely little duck and pelican inhabited pond. Who would have thought a perfect little RVing oasis such as this existed in a tiny off-the-beaten-path Kansas prairie town?

   There are no attendants. No office or rec hall... just this...

   $20 placed in an envelope and deposited in the slot gets you a very spacious 50 amp, water & sewer equipped overnight parking spot. The website on which I discovered this place stated there was a dump station but that sites were equipped with water & electric only. No sewer. Imagine my delight when I spotted that wonderful 3" metal-flap-covered orifice at the back of our site! It's the little things.

  We like this park so much we've decided to spend 2 nights. Tomorrow we'll take a drive into town to do a little grocery shopping and check things out. Also, there's another Roadside America attraction (oddity) not far down the road that we may investigate.  

  Check back tomorrow and I'll tell you all about it. 

  Oh, and I installed a new outlet.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Snow in St. Joe, MO!

     After exiting the highway on our way to the RV park in Hannibal Friday afternoon I noticed a potentially good spot to take on diesel fuel on our way out of town Sunday morning. I usually fill up at truck stops where I can take advantage of my EFS fuel card discount. TA travel centers, in particular offer the best deal. However, we're no longer travelling the Interstate and the big truck stops are few and far between. There was a Love's further back on route 36 but I passed it up in hopes of finding a TA before reaching Hannibal. This small gas station had a single free-standing diesel pump and there appeared to be plenty of room for me to maneuver the coach in and out with the car in tow. To get to the diesel pump I would have to pull through the two islands of gasoline pumps so there was the possibility that I might have to idle in the street (or with the coach's back end and the car hanging part-way into the street) if there were cars at the pumps blocking my path. When I arrived at the station Sunday morning there was just one car at the pumps. He had finished fueling and was getting into his car. I left him plenty of space to exit around me but he very considerately backed away from the pump allowing me to pull forward and off the street after only a brief stop. Just one a-hole blew his horn during the 30 seconds my rear end was hanging out into the street. 

   Unlike the high-velocity truck stop pumps, this pump was  s l o w. I mean  s -  l -  o -  w ... and my 150 gallon fuel tank was reading 3/4 empty. It took a good twenty minutes to fill up... but at $1.89 a gallon, it was worth the wait! I love having a full tank of diesel fuel. 

   The 190 miles to St. Joseph, MO were uneventful and we arrived at Beacon RV Park around 12:30pm.    

   Umm... not The Ritz. 

   Every once in a while you end up at a park that just doesn't quite live up to your expectations... or the pictures on their website. This is just such a park. 

   But hey, the price is right and we have a full hookup. It could be worse.

   Actually, the entire city of St. Joseph is a little thread worn. Because of the towns historical roll in the creation of the Pony Express, I'm reminded of the old adage, "Ridden hard and put away wet". That pretty accurately describes downtown St. Joseph.  

   But there's a cool little museum here...

The Pony Express National Museum

   ... and Suzanne and I spent a couple of hours there learning all about the origin and operation of the Pony Express. One thing that struck me was that the oldest surviving P.E. rider lived to the ripe old age of 105, dying in 1955! That's just a year before I was born! A reminder that our country's history doesn't go back all that far.

   In other news...

   Yeah, it snowed overnight. Only about an inch... but snow nonetheless. 
   In anticipation of overnight temps in the upper 20s I disconnected from the water bibb and retracted the hose before calling it a night. We have a 90 gallon fresh water tank onboard so disconnecting from a parks water supply isn't an issue. 

   While we were in Hannibal I took care of a couple minor problems I've been having with the coach.       There are three control pods on the steering wheel...

   The one in the center allows for remote operation of the entertainment system (radio) and has been giving me problems for about a year. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I push the desired button a dozen times before it finally works. I took a half-baked whack at repairing it several months ago.. to no avail. This time I completely disassembled it, cleaned up some questionable looking areas on the circuit board and re-soldered a couple wires. It now works like a charm! I no longer have to reach over to the radio to adjust the volume, change stations etc. Ain't nobody got time for that!

   Also, my in-dash navigation has been barking directions at me for about a year which requires my entering the NAV menu on the radio and selecting like 3 options in order to shut him up. I have to repeat the procedure every time I shut the engine down and restart. Again, I've taken a couple half-assed swipes at fixing it over the past several months but nothing took. I finally reset the thing to the factory settings... and I haven't heard a peep since. I should mention that we purchased a Garmin Trucker GPS device a couple years ago that far out-performs the in-dash NAV ... and raised my comfort level significantly.

   Next "project"...

   So tomorrow we continue west on US36 to the small town of Belleville, Kansas (about 160 miles from here) where I'm hoping to spend the night at their first-come-first-served town park where they provide 50 amp electrical service and a water connection for 20 bucks a night. 

Fingers crossed.



Saturday, October 24, 2020

Heading West...Again!


We returned from our last cross-country journey on June 1st, staying home just long enough to check a few items off our to-do list. On July 1st I underwent a cardiac ablation procedure to remedy an issue I've had much of my adult life with PVCs. It was an experience. 3 hours and 40 minutes in length, lots of impressive, futuristic looking equipment and a crew of around 8 medical professionals. General anesthesia tends to silence PVCs so they want you to remain conscious during the procedure. Needless to say I would have preferred to have been asleep and unaware of what was going on... but I got through it just fine and though I'm not completely PVC free, I'm feeling way better than I was prior to the ablation.


   The HVAC system in our townhouse finally gave up the ghost. Its replacement, an unexpected addition to the to-do list - but given its age, not completely unanticipated. 

   Both the coach and the SUV we tow behind it were overdue for their Virginia safety inspections so we took care of that. Although it passed inspection the tires on the SUV were about to 'age out' so I replaced them with four new Firestones. Suzanne had a doctors appointment and we both had dentist appointments. The dogs visited the vet and had their yearly vaccines. 


   In August we took the coach for a three week trip to Newport, Rhode Island by way of Phillipston, Massachusetts, where we paused just long enough to pick up a passenger, my mother. We had a great time in Newport made even more so with the arrival of Andy, Allie & Henry. They rented an apartment in  Newport for a week. 

   We hadn't seen my mom since she came to visit during Thanksgiving last year. We all had a wonderful time in Newport... and the weather couldn't have been better.


   Spending time with our kids, kids-in-law and grandkid was #1 on our to-do list and we were able to do plenty of that. In fact, after checking off all the to-do list items we loaded the coach for long-term departure and spent three weeks boondocking on a sizeable chunk of land my daughter and son-in-law purchased earlier this year. During our stay we were paid visits by family and friends on several occasions and had a great time enjoying 'the good life' at our own private RV resort! 

A Day of College Football
(Andy attended WVU)

   The property Andy & Allie own used to be a golf course. We parked the coach next to the old club house and were able to plug into a new 50 amp service installed a few days prior to our arrival (thanks to the best son-in-law in the world!) and connect to an outside water bibb. There was a 4" pvc septic tank cleanout 70' away - a distance far exceeding the length of my sewer hose. In addition, the pipe opening was at an elevation approximately 3' higher than the coach's waste tank outlet. Even if I had 70' of hose, gravity being what it is... it wouldn't have worked.

   For a while I've considered purchasing an RV waste water macerating pump for just such a scenario. The time had finally come to take the plunge... so to speak. The pump connects to the coach's waste outlet and propels the tanks contents, via an ordinary garden hose, to a point as far away as necessary provided that point is no more than 15' higher than the RV waste tank connection. 

Order placed...

... problem solved.


    "The Farm" as it is now referred to was a great place to spend a few weeks while making final departure preparations. And because it is in such close proximity to Allie & Andy's home, we were able to spend a lot of quality time with them and our grandson, Henry. However, with cold weather fast approaching it was time to point the coach toward the Southwest. So on Saturday 10/17 we retracted the  landing gear, rolled out of Frederick, Maryland and out onto I-15 north to the I-70 interchange where we made a hard left-hand turn... thus beginning our five week journey to Napa, California where we will spend Thanksgiving with Suzanne's sister and her family. From there, we'll continue south to Indio, California where we will wile away a good portion of the winter before returning home in March. My daughter is expecting grandchild #2 on April 15... so we'll be home in plenty of time for HIS (yep, it's a boy!) arrival.

   We spent our first night on the road at the Madison/Pittsburg SE KOA , a pleasant little RV park about 180 miles west of where we began our day. In fact, we spent the next day (Sunday) there as well so Suzanne could watch football. She loves her NFL.

    Two hundred miles further west on I-70 is the town of Galloway, Ohio - home of Alton RV Park - a very nice, well maintained little park not far off the Interstate and where we spent our third night on the road.

   Day 4 saw us another 170 miles further west and arriving at another KOA in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Not a bad park... but not a great one. Things were a little muddy from a couple days of heavy rain and two fellows on riding lawn mowers busied themselves for what seemed like hours "mowing" fallen leaves into smaller leaf bits. And then smaller bits. And smaller. Over and over the same ground they rode. Mowing & mulching. Mowing & mulching. You get the idea.

   There was a very cool local attraction in Crawfordsville however and we made sure to allow enough time to pay it a visit before the 1:00pm KOA checkout time. 

   The Rotary Jail Museum!
   The rotary jail seemed like a great idea when they started building them in the 1880s. However when sleeping inmates started losing appendages left casually dangling through cell bars as guards cranked the 2 story behemoth around to welcome or release a resident... they began having second thoughts.
   Regardless, they remained (18 in total) in operation well into the 20th century and this one in Crawfordsville made its final revolution in 1973. Pretty cool. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a rotary jail until a few days ago!


   Wednesday and Thursday nights were spent at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois. Their 'campground' really more resembled a parking lot - but we had a full hookup - and at $20 a night hey, what the heck. 2.5 miles away was the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. The museum was incredible and Thursday morning Suzanne and I spend a couple of hours taking it all in. There were a couple of holographic presentations that were amazing. If you're ever in the area, check it out. I highly recommend it!

    After exiting the museum we did the .6 mile walk to the Lincoln Home and restored neighborhood followed by an al fresco lunch at Obed & Isaacs, a lovely local restaurant. 

   It is now Saturday evening and we're in Hannibal, Missouri (of Mark Twain fame). We were here many years ago on a cross country trip with our kids when we moved from Napa, Ca to Summit, NJ. Suzanne tells me we stayed at this very same campground... I have no recollection. We arrived yesterday and this morning, after enjoying breakfast in the coach, drove into town and walked up and down Main Street, making a couple small purchases along the way. One store, the name of which escapes me, had quite an interesting selection of funky flavored sodas.

   And at a farm supply store where we stopped to buy dog food...

   Stay tuned for more...