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We're Still Rolling Along
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaIt is hard for me to add things to my BLOG when we are living in our fixed home. Now that we're back in the motor home for the summer I have dozens of things to write about. At home I've been busy settling in for two years now, kind of like a dog turning around several times before it finds just the right spot to lay down. During this period of settling in I am afraid that I've been pretty much ignoring the motor home through the winter. It's plugged in and we keep minimal heat and air conditioning on to keep the interior in top shape. When we hit the road this spring we found out all the things that had quit during the winter. As I explained to Louise, if we were living in it through the winter these things would have occurred one at a time rather than all in the first week back on the road. The list is long, but not overwhelming. We will be making repair stops as we travel. Our first three stops have been complete wash-outs, 0 for 3. Things will get better, I know it. Our first stop out of the blocks was at the Lone Star Chapter of FMCA rally in Rockport, Texas. Being new residents of Texas I want to be involved with a local chapter and Herman Mullins has been inviting us to join for several years so we had to give it a try. We got a royal welcome from the assembled membership. Herman was there to help us get parked! We found lots of friendly people and plenty of good food. We managed to drum up a golf game the first morning of the rally. A happy hour circle, games and other activities gave us plenty of opportunity to get aquainted with the 40+ members at this rally. To top it all off, I was on the championship bean-bag toss baseball game and got a ten dollar signing bonus! That was topped off when we got our official chapter license plate. And then we ran off with the grand prize in the door prize drawing. We actually got our entire registration fee refunded! What-a-deal! Leaving the rally we found out that the generator wasn't in a working mood. It gave us overheating errors on two tries to start it. So, just turn on the dash air for some relief - wrong, it blew only warm air. Louise gave the generator another try out of desperation. We planned to drive 500 miles from Rockport to Little Rock, AR and it was going to be blistering hot. Thank goodness, the generator finally gave in and ran. We turned on the roof air and kept our fingers crossed. Thank goodness it has been working ever since. The dash air is out of commission until we can get the compressor replaced. It's on order... The KVH dish has quit so we're back to broadcast TV. I was surprised to find that the number of channels that are available have increased. Our stop to determine the problem revealed a faulty computer card, no replacement available. The company wants the entire antenna unit returned to the factory... I'm thinking about it. Arriving at our destination in Missouri the next day, we picked up our two grandsons for a ten day tour of Nebraska and South Dakota. At ages 10 and 11, they are really interested in paleontology so we made the U of N State Muesum in Lincoln, NE our first stop. These are two exceptional 10 and 11 year old boys. They actually stop to read and learn from the displays. Sure, the gift shop is not an optional stop but they really love all those bones! Then we were off to Custer, SD. We made that our base for four days of exploring. We hiked to the outstretched arm of the Crazy Horse Monument with the annual Volksmarch. The boys would get 20 or 30 yards ahead of Louise and I then wait for us to catch up. I have lots of pictures of them standing by the side of the trail waiting! Our next day was a visit to Mount Rushmore followed by a drive through Custer State Park. I've been through the park several times and seen only an occasional bison. Thank goodness this trip was different. We saw many herds of the giant of the plains. Frequently they were only a few feet outside the window of the toad. And there were huge numbers of calves. We arrived back at the campground just before dark. Speaking of the campground, we stayed at Beaver Lake Campground and found it to be a great place for the boys. They actually had a collection of bicycles for use in the park, free. The boys would pick their bikes to ride and the next day get a different one. They enjoyed the playground, pool and the rabbits. Our final South Dakota activity was on the way back to Nebraska. We stopped at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD. We had arranged two special experiences for the boys. They learned to throw an atlatl in a hour session with Chelsea. We ate lunch in the motor home parked on the parking lot. Then returned to enjoy the advanced lessons in paleontology. The boys learned to map and record their finds and how to preserve the fossil bones by plaster coating them. Then they were tunred loose on a plot to find bones. With each find they would record the find on the map then continue excavation until they had exposed the bones sufficiently to identify them. As the proceeded they would update the information on the map. Chelsea was our instructor and with the help of several assistants they even got Louise and I through the exercise. We then drove on to Nebraska and stayed two nights at Fort Robinson State Park. We explored the reconstructed buildings on the frontier cavalry post. We walked the ground where Crazy Horse died and learned about the life of late 1800's cavalry soldiers in the western prairie. They also have a paleontology museum at Fort Robinson which the boys still found interesting! The boys are cousins and they really enjoy each others company. I told Louise we got double points for this vacation with the boys, one point for the places we took them and one point for their chance to be together for an extended time. Through all this they never tired of each others company. Our final stop with the boys was at the Ashfall site in northeastern Nebraska. Here there are rhinocerocus bones that were buried in a volcanic ashfall. The rhinos had clustered at a waterhole along with camels and horses and other animals, trying to cope with a smothering ash cloud. Four feet of ash fell and the animals suffocated and were buried. The site was discovered about 40 years ago and has been preserved inside a large building that protects the unfossilized bones. There are dozens of skeletons and excellent information about the nature of the animals. Both this site and the museum at Fort Robinson are extensions of the U of N State Museum in Lincoln. We returned the boys to their parents and picked up their sisters. Two girls ages 7 and 8 are a world apart from the two boys. We planned an eight day trip to Indiana and Kentucky. We visited the zoo in Evansville, Indiana. The youngest was disappointed that there was no elephant. They managed to make friends with a jaguar. Both girls got to hand feed a pair of giraffes and they enjoyed the many play items on the grounds of the zoo. Then drove on to Palmyra to stay in the county park there. Our first day we toured the Schimpff's Confectionery in Jeffersonville, Indiana. This is a great place to take kids and adults. The tour covers the history of the business which has been in continuous operation by the same family line for over 100 years and they have the equipment to show for it. We got to watch them make their signature red hots and then got a sample that was still warm. We got a special treat at the county park has a swimming lake with a sand beach. The girls enjoyed several hours of play in the water and on the beach. The next day we drove the toad to Lexingtion, KY to vist the Kentucky Horse Park. The girls weren't ready to leave when the park closed. The horseback ride around the park was followed by several visits to the Children's Barn where they learned all about horses in hands on activities including a brush and shine lesson with a real horse. Thomas, a large black Frisian, stood absolutely still as a dozen children brushed and combed him to be show ready! We saw several shows and rode the horse drawn trolly around the park. After all that it was Pizza Hut, a break for Louise, and a long drive home. Their final experience was at the Indianapolis Children's Museum. This museum is a wonder for young children. We've visited this museum a number of times and it never disappoints. They seem to find ways to make it more interesting every time we visit. The girls loved the carousel and then spotted the play houses. They even enjoyed the Lego's and Hot Wheels exhibits. Taking after their brothers they even enjoyed the dinosaurs. After returning the girls we attended a baseball game for the 11 year old boy and then celebrated fathers day with my son and the 10 year old boy and the 6 year old girl. Today we rested. Louise caught up with the laundry and gave the entire motor home a thorough cleaning. I was off to spend the afternoon working at my mothers home, helping to get the house ready for sale. We buried my mother in late April followed by Louise's mother in mid-May. Both were near/in their 90's and had been in failing health over the last few years. We are parked at my daughters home and they are leaving on vacation tomorrow. I'm looking forward to some quiet days ahead. We'll leave Missouri mid-week next week and be pretty much on our own for the rest of the summer. Dozens of things to write about... more soon.