Trip Start Jun 11, 2009
1Trip End Jul 03, 2009
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Where I stayed
Aunt Cathys and Uncle Tims
We'd been retired for nine months and it was time to get reacquainted with our 11-yr.-old granddaughter, Lauren. She lives in Springfield, MO and we live in Englewood, FL.
So we packed up the camper with our two cats, Ryan and Mitzi, and set off on an adventure which should include a route taking us to MO, then to WY, then to MN.
Before we had gone 100 miles, we regretted taking the cats, but we had left them home for 15 days when we toured Peru last month and didn’t want to leave them again. They were soon relegated to the camper for the duration of the trip! After our lunch stop, we noticed a strange smell coming from the truck along with a loss of power. Our first campsite was at Falling Waters State Park in FL. As soon as Bob unhitched the camper, he headed into Chipley in search of a mechanic. Of course it was too late to work on the truck, so we were told to return the next morning. We tried to enjoy the evening—took a 20-minute walk through the park, investigated Florida’s tallest waterfall, discovered it is actually a 100-ft. sinkhole into which a 73-ft. wall of water falls.
Not much water falling,
but the wooded area surrounding is quite picturesque with more magnolia trees than I could count. Many are more than 60 ft. tall; I bet it’s gorgeous when they are all in bloom. We let the cats roam a bit on leashes and they both managed to wriggle out of them. After supper we watched Killshot with Mickey Rourke. Good flick.
Bob with Ryan.
Mitzi climbing up to the top bunk.
Friday, June 12, 2009
This morning we were in a hurry to get the truck diagnosed.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Today’s drive ended in Jonesboro, AR. We made a stop at Wal-Mart for a few supplies in the grocery department, a turkey being the most important. We would cook it when we reached Springfield, so it could sit in the camper sink until then. The clerk at customer service told us about a campground in Craighead Forest just a couple of miles away. Wow! This wonderful place is just two miles off the highway and combines city park with campground with enormous playground with fishing lake. There are miles and miles of bike paths and a foot race was scheduled for tomorrow! The only drawback was the geese that have invaded the lake so there is no swimming allowed.
Sooo many geese!
After dinner Mitzi, our 22-toed black and white cat, escaped. Bob ran through the woods, got full of poison ivy, and finally gave up chasing her and we went to bed.
Good cat Ryan likes it up high!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
At 3 AM, I was awakened by Mitzi’s cries, opened the door, and in she leapt. We left Craighead and drove the 300 miles to Springfield, ending up at Kirsten’s driveway by 3 PM. After a great Mexican dinner (no one cooks it like our daughter!), the guys, Bob, son-in-law Frank and grandson Jordan, put their heads together and worked on the truck. Next diagnosis: change the anti-freeze.
Granddaughter Lauren in the top bunk.
Unfortunately, this would not be the final one! Lauren and I watched Good Boy (she is nuts about dogs) and went to bed in the camper. She always claims the top bunk and that would be her bed until July 3. Happy Flag Day!
Lauren will never live this picture down!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Today is Bob’s 55th birthday and we celebrated with roast turkey and calamondin pie (it looks just lemon meringue but with a unique taste that you will never forget---yummy!). We have a huge calamondin tree in our yard and the harvest from it is enormous. I made 75 pints of marmalade and squeezed 15 quarts of juice this past winter. There was more truck work and we also dropped off 650 DVDs at Entertainmart to sell. We were able to sell 572 of them for $660.50! So, that helped the truck situation, for now.
Lauren & I watched Dr. Dolittle and went to bed.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Margaret & Kirsten with Kirsten’s beautiful lilies.
Our 42-yr.-old daughter, Kirsten, teaches yoga at several venues in Springfield and I accompanied her to the 9:30 AM class. She never ceases to amaze me with her gentle yet competent methods; it’s hard to believe this is my daughter! I always end the class with a cleansed mind, a relaxed body, and a few tears of pride on my face. Bob made his obligatory trip to Bass Pro; I can remember when that company was no more than a few racks of lures in John Morris’ father’s Brown Derby liquor stores 25 years ago—talk about a success story! Kirsten, Lauren, and I rode our bikes through Maple Park Cemetery, I made a kumquat pie to go with turkey leftovers, we watched Twilight and packed up for the next leg of the trip tomorrow.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Margaret & Lauren enjoying the pool at Yogi Bear Campground.
Lauren wants a jumping platform for her backyard!
So does Bob
Today’s drive took us from Springfield, MO through Iowa, touching Nebraska and a final stop at the Yogi Bear Jellystone RV Park in Sioux Falls, SD. We all loved this place with its great pool and wonderful jumping platform. This contraption is a huge arched rubber base, higher in the middle. You can jump on it like a trampoline, but, because it is on the ground, there is no danger of falling off. The kids (including Bob!) were absolutely entranced by it. We watched Terminal after dinner, Mitzi escaped again, and we went to bed.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Mitzi is certainly consistent. Promptly at 3 AM, she meowed her way back into the camper. Today’s drive took us to the corny tourist traps,
starting with the corny Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. This structure was originally built in 1892 and was later rebuilt in 1905 in a bid to edge out Pierre as the state capitol. That was unsuccessful, but the palace was rebuilt a third time and today serves as a home for local college and high school basketball games. The exterior is redecorated yearly at a cost of $135,000
with a different theme made up of corn, grains and grasses. A dozen souvenirs later, we were on the road to stop in Wall, for what else? Wall Drug---we counted over 100 billboards on the way! This store had its beginning in 1931 when the Hustead family decided to give it a five-year trial. Business was nil, it was the height of the Depression, and when that fifth hot summer began, Ted Hustead hit on an idea! Free ice cold water! His wife designed some Burma Shave-type signs and the rest is history. Today as many as 20,000 people visit in one day and there must have been 5,000 there with us.
So, a quick perusal of the many departments and a hamburger later, we were on our way again. Rapid City was next on the list. Not long here, only a Wal-Mart grocery stop.
Lauren & Margaret loved that corn!
Man-made sculpture on the route to Wall, S.D.
Badlands in the distance.
Sorry, we didn’t have time for cards!
Walmarts again Rapid City S.D.
By dinnertime we limped up my sister Kathy and her hubby Tim’s long driveway.
The truck barely made it! They live just over the SD/WY line in Sundance, WY on a 144-acre ranch that they built themselves. This is the second home they have built; the first was in the northern Wisconsin woods, so they are no strangers to hard work.
The ranch is picturesque, to say the least. The landscape is treeless, but the red clay ravines fill your view 360 degrees. Lauren is in love with the terrain; “I want to live here” sums up her assessment of our home away from home.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Today began by delivering our ailing truck to Woody’s Repair in Sundance. This was a transmission servicing, another $125 and still no fix. We decided to investigate the Vore Buffalo Jump just a few miles away. The Vore family owned the land where this pit of bones was discovered when excavation began for highway 90 in the 1970s. It was donated to the University of Wyoming in 1989. It is estimated that 20,000 buffalo were stampeded into this ravine over 300 years. The decomposition that would normally occur is not evident here so this makes this site so important.
Lauren at the Vore Buffalo Jump.
After this we went to the Aladdin General Store in the huge town of Aladdin, population 15. Lauren loved this place!
Tim at the self-serve bar in Aladdin.
Kathy & Margaret at the Aladdin General Store.
Later we picked and identified wildflowers with the book that Kathy had bought. We found Bradbury Cryptantha, Prairie Smoke, Stemless Hymenoxys, Meadow Rose, Western Wildflower, Low Fleabane, Segolily (we ate these!), Downy Paintbrush, Blue Flax, and Lambert Crazyweed.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Tim and Bob decided to travel to Forsyth, MT today to attend the Quigley Shoot. This is a long-range rifle match (up to 800 yds.) using original or replica firearms such as those used in the buffalo trade. It is held every Father’s Day weekend and attracted 629 shooters this year.
Quigley Shoot, Forsyth, MT.
Quigley Shoot, MT.
Stoneville Saloon, MT.
Tim in the gully.
Shooting from the house to here is 680 yards.
Bob looking for bullets. House is in the background.
Kathy, Lauren and I drove the truck to Scott Peterson Ford dealership in Belle Fourche, SD, and left it for diagnosis. We drove to Spearfish in Kathy’s caddy and perused the antique stores. I found a flask from you’ll-never-guess-where-----Peru! It is covered in beautiful red embroidered cloth with leather accents and was only $10,
so you know what Bob received for Father’s Day! I also found a cute pirate picture frame for Tim (their two basement bedrooms are decorated, one in pirate theme and the other in motorcycle theme—both Kathy and Tim are avid Harley riders and they have the perfect venue for it). When we picked up the truck we were told there was only a PARTIAL diagnostic done because the diesel expert wasn’t there. So, another $55 and “bring it back on Thursday—we’re full up 'til then!” Yep, the best (or the worst) is yet to come with this truck!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Kathy treated our guys to a festive steak dinner, the guys shot guns, guns, and more guns. I did some laundry and Kathy introduced Lauren to her sewing corner in the basement. Wow! Kathy sews everything—shirts, jackets, quilts, place mats—you name it. And Lauren was ecstatic to learn from the master. She quickly caught onto the cutting of the quilt squares and loved using Kathy’s serger.
Kathy instructing Lauren.
Lauren with her finished quilt.
Bob shooting the Quigley 45.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Deadwood was on our radar today. We were a bit disappointed to see that it had turned into a miniature Las Vegas but the buffet at the Five Aces was delicious and cheap. A walk around town and an investigation of the Adams Museum topped off our visit. Kathy and Lauren finished off the quilt and wasn’t Lauren proud!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Bob was losing patience today with the truck problem. He’s used to being in control, always able to fix or figure out how to fix everything. But this is not getting better. Of course, when I called yesterday, the dealership said they couldn’t even look at it again until Thursday. Now when Bob calls, the story is “Bring it in.” Well, to add injury to insult, the @#$%^&** truck would not start! So, a call to a tow truck later, the truck is finally delivered to Scott Peterson once again.
“Close Encounters” Devil’s Tower, WY.
Bob, Lauren & I borrowed Kathy’s caddy and decided to make the best of an already awful day and drive to Devil’s Tower. It’s located in Wyoming, 40 miles beyond the South Dakota border. The Tower is a solitary, stump-shaped granite formation that looms 865 feet above the valley. It’s the core of an almost volcano. We walked the one-hour 1.25-mile Tower Trail that encircles the base. It was hard to stop taking pics--every one was an opportunity. Back at home, Lauren pleaded with Kathy for more “sewing class” and voila! Out materialized a pillow case!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Kathy went to Rapid City today to pick up her son David, his wife Lisa, granddaughter Morgan and grandson Spencer. We had intended to be gone by now, continuing on our way to Minnesota to visit my ailing 82-yr.-old Mother. Thank goodness we have the camper to stay in. We have been comfortably ensconced there since June 11. It boasts three queen beds, a full kitchen and bath. And all our stuff is there, out of Kathy and Tim’s way. Before Kathy left, Lauren made a cloth bag, complete with lining. This project required pinning on a pattern and using the sewing machine, not the serger. But Lauren amazed me with her interest and perseverance (her mother is a whiz at many things but has never been interested in sewing—our other daughter, Jeanine, is like Kathy and can sew anything—who knows where the genes will come out!). The three kids are close in age: Morgan is 12, Lauren is 11 and Spencer is 9. They got acquainted and bonded quickly over movies, exploratory walks around the property, and their Nintendo DS machines!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Water park in Spearfish, S.D.
Lauren navigating the log roll at water park.
Kathy and Tim took their family to the Vore Buffalo Jump and Aladdin General Store today while we went to Spearfish. We had been looking at a new truck (ours was still not fixed), so we checked out the GMC dealership there. We had also promised Lauren a trip to the new water park in Spearfish. It was not a disappointment. The whole complex is new and clean and we all had a great time. For dinner we fixed the grouper that Bob had caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Great meal!
Friday, June 26, 2009
Kathy loaded up David, Lisa and the three kids and headed for Mt. Rushmore. Tim and Bob drove into Belle Fourche to pick up the truck. The bill set us back $2393.42! We thought it might be prudent to trade it at that point and drove to Spearfish to the GMC dealership. With title in hand and $30,000 just transferred into our account, we talked to the salesman. This new truck listed for over $55,000 and we requested running boards as it is too tall for me to climb up into it. The owner was queried, said he was losing money on the deal, Bob looked at me and said, “Come on, Margaret, we’re done here” and we left in our old truck. You could have stepped on their tongues as we walked out, they thought we wouldn’t back out for any reason, “that they had a sure sale.” Tim and Bob and I shook our heads all the way back to Beulah and laughed about the botched deal over ribs, hamburger, chicken salad, jalapeno poppers, onion rings and a bit of happy juice. Evidently it wasn’t meant to be and now I can put that $30,000 back in my home equity account!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
A tall Indian is Lauren’s new friend and hero.
Tim & Margaret at Custer Battlefield.
Looking down the hill from Custer’s Last Stand
Today we went to the Little Bighorn Battlefield This is the site of Custer’s Last Stand on June 25, 1876. The visitor center is full of information and we spent an hour perusing the books, postcards, and other memorabilia, purchasing several items. Then we signed up for a tour led by the Apsaalooke Indians. We all marveled at the tall (6’4”) Indian who led the ride through the battlefield. If the 7,000 Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota who had assembled here 133 years ago were of that stature, they must have been quite formidable. Of course, Custer, Benteen, and Reno had grossly underestimated the huge force they were facing. The graves, memorials and other markers told the story of the two days of fierce fighting on this ground. I had a chance to speak to Mom on the long trip home; today is her 82nd birthday and I had hoped to be there with her. That trip will have to take place later.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
With the truck finally repaired, it was time to leave Wyoming!
Morgan, Lisa, Lauren, David, Margaret, Spencer, Kathy, Tim & Bob
Lauren with John Lopez sculpture, Hill City, S.D.
Crazy Horse Memorial, S.D.
Crazy Horse Museum, S.D.
Lauren in Crazy Horse Museum, S.D.
Sitting Bull Crystal Cave, S.D.
Lauren, Margaret & Bob at Mt. Rushmore.
Our Missouri granddaughter.
We headed for South Dakota, stopping first at Wal-Mart in Rapid City for groceries “AGAIN” and ice. Then we parked the camper at the Tee-Pee Campground, turned on the AC for the cats, and set out for Hill City. We stopped there to peruse the shops, investigate a sculpture exhibit, and mail some postcards. Bob was most impressed with the John Lopez sculptures. Next we went to the Crazy Horse Memorial which will be 641 ft. long and 563 feet high when finished. I had seen the beginnings of this monument over 50 years ago and was amazed at the change, not only in the sculpture but the visitor center as well. The collection of Indian artifacts, art, and artisans is impressive, to say the least. I was amused to see letter from Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mt. Rushmore, firing the sculptor-to-be of Crazy Horse, Korczak Ziolkowski. After a great lunch, we set off for Sitting Bull Crystal Cave. The trip down the mountain just to get to the cave was a thrill! Once inside the cave, we were awestruck by the steep climb ahead of us. Our guide, probably under 20, was most entertaining and it was a good choice to fill a hour or so. Next was Mt. Rushmore. We wanted to visit close to the nighttime activities so we could see the lighting ceremony. We were not disappointed and Lauren, of course, could guide us around as she had been here just two days ago.
Monday, June 29, 2009
On the road again, 100 miles from Rapid City, a tire on the camper blew out. Bob struggled to get the tire off and the new one on; fabric under the camper was also torn off. We stopped at a rest stop for lunch of chow mein in the camper, then traveled to Bellevue, NB to camp at Haworth Park. This park is located on the Missouri River and boasts lovely flowers, shady trees, large campsites, clean showers and quiet grounds. It was time for a campfire and s’mores!
Haworth Park, Bellevue, NB.
Nighttime at the back of our camper, NB.
Margaret & Lauren making s’mores!
Bicycle sculpture at Haworth Park.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
We left Bellevue, drove all the way through Iowa and ended in Jonesboro AR.
We had searched for a different route, but had promised Lauren we would arrive in Pine Island, Florida for the July 4th celebration, and this was the quickest way to achieve that. Of course, we had to say a quick “Hello” to Kirsten as we stopped to gas up and eat a sandwich.
Lauren had to show Mom her quilt!
We ended the day at Craighead Forest once again. Mitzi did not escape.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Today we traveled through Arkansas to Mississippi. We stopped for lunch in Jackson at a new Wal-Mart—Wow! It is located in a new shopping center and certainly looks similar to the rest of the shops, not your typical Wal-Mart. We drove through the tunnel under Mobile Bay (Bob always calls it the “snake’s belly”) Tunnel under Mobile Bay.
and began looking for a campground. Nothing looked acceptable and we hadn’t done our homework ahead of time.
We finally got desperate, it was dark, and settled at Longleaf RV Park in Defuniak Springs, FL. What a mistake! This place is unkempt, dirty, and expensive---$30! When we awoke the next morning we weren’t surprised to find the place empty except for a couple of permanent-looking campers.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Home at last!
Friday, July 3-Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Although our three-week adventure on the road had ended, we still had 26 more wonderful days to spend with Lauren before she flew to Springfield. On July 4, we were on Pine Island when she and her 4-yr-old cousin Ava participated in the bike parade, with Ava winning first place!
Fourth of July bike parade on Pine Island, FL with Ava and Lauren.
For five days from July 13 through July 17, Mia Hererra, a 10-yr.-old friend of the family, stayed with us and she and Lauren became fast friends. We traveled to Cocoa Beach, FL to watch the liftoff of the space shuttle Endeavour at 6 PM on July 15, 2009.
Mia and Lauren waiting for liftoff.
Mia, Margaret, & Lauren at Jetty Park.
Go, Endeavour, Go!
The liftoff and a trip to Ron Jon Surf Shop thrilled the girls. We filled our days with lots and lots of pool time, some gardening, shopping, and many visits to Pine Island.
Kirsten & Jeanine enjoying the Gulf of Mexico.
Lauren at Ft. Myers pet shop with her favorite—a German shepherd!
Kirsten arrived July 21 and, after a week of visiting, she and Lauren and I all traveled to St. Pete and Tampa on July 28 to board two different planes, theirs to Springfield and mine to Duluth, MN. Yes, at last I was going to see Mom and it was all for the best. Now she was just two days away from leaving the nursing home where she had been recuperating after her back surgery. I could spend 24/7 with her at home for the next two weeks, even squeezing in a 48th high school reunion!
Margaret with elementary school classmates at 48th Denfeld HS reunion.
Jean Endrizzi, Margaret’s beloved high school teacher and coach.
Nancy Eliason, Margaret’s friend since 1st grade—60 years!
Margaret, Mom (Doris), brother John, sister-in-law Barb, and sister Linda.
This sign on our front porch says it all!