Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Heading to SkillsUSA

CIMG4313 We left the Wisconsin area and our nieces to travel to Beloit, WI, the town that Tom’s Clayton family was from. We knew that grandpa Walter Clayton had worked as a fireman in the early 1900’s before bringing the family to California. We went first to City Hall where one of the secretaries’ sons was a fireman. She directed us to the main Firehouse.

DSC03451  CIMG6385 As we were talking to one of the firemen he said there was a book on the history of the Beloit Fire Department in the Chief’s office.  He got it for us to look through and amazingly enough there was picture of grandpa in 1905! We then went to the Historical Museum and the curator, when hearing that we found a picture of grandpa in the Fire Department History Book, gave us a copy of the book.  Don’t you just love small towns?
We left to travel south to Springfield, IL. Last year when traveling with granddaughter, Julie, we had stayed at the beautiful Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
We wanted to visit the area again and mostly find the illusive geocache, Mellow Yellow! We had looked all over for it last year and had to log a “Did Not Find” :(  I since have seen it found many times – no way  was I going to let this one go DNF on my watch. Tom & I looked all over the “yellow” area. Nothing! Tom left for a few minutes and I continued to search. What! Right there in plain sight, probably there last year too. We just didn’t spot it. It was number 555 and off our list. Whew!  On to St Lewis.
CIMG4315The Casino Queen, though a bit pricey at $28 a night, is very nice, 50 amp, and convenient to all the sights in St Lewis and also near to Bobby’s Custard in Maryville, IL.  This is a must stop for us when in the area.
Though we have been to Kansas City, St Lewis, Branson, and parts in between, we have never been to the capitol of Missouri, Jefferson City. We decided on a campground just outside the city, Mari Osa Delta RV Park, and called ahead for a spot. Annie took our call and directed us to the park. This is a very hard park to get to; they have changed the road, the GPS did not find the address, and the turnoff is not marked any more. After traveling about 7 miles past the turnoff we called Annie back. She not only redirected us, she drove out to the highway and flagged us down and ferried us back to the park. We have not found friendlier park owners who are there to make your stay comfortable.
This is a “severe weather” area as we noted when we arrived. Annie showed us many places to visit and we drove the Jeep into the Capitol the next day. 

Of all the Capitols we have visited, non are quite as beautiful as Missouri’s. When this was rebuilt in 1924 it was mandated that the State Museum be incorporated in the Capitol.
We spent quite a bit of time in the Capitol because a “Severe Thunder Storm” came through Jefferson City and we were advised not to leave the safety of the Capitol.
The painting by Thomas Hart Benton in the Assembly Lounge on the second floor was particularly interesting. He was allowed to paint anything concerning the history of Missouri as long as it was true. Later the legislators regretted allowing him this freedom as there were quite a few embarrassing scenes. Never the less the picture remains as Benton originally painted it though at one time the Assembly wanted to hang heavy drapes over the top of the painting.
Imagine, a bare baby’s rear in the Capitol.
A  period that Missouri would rather forget.
There were beautiful stained glass windows and displays.
There was a Children’s interactive display, and Tom got to experience the problems of the hoop skirt under the ladies’ petticoats.
There was the very comprehensive explanation of Missouri’s involvement in the Civil War including the period called “Bleeding Kansas”.
We left after the storm had passed, had a delicious dinner at “The Original Oscars”. Don’t know if the Steak Oscar on the menu was the original Steak Oscar, but we did not have it. When we arrived back at the rig all was good and the storm had passed the park by and the tree had be removed from the trailer. There was nothing left but firewood.
We were right on the Moreau River which was up about 12 feet and in flood stage though we were up on a bluff and safe from the river. We sure saw a lot of swollen creeks, and even the Missouri River was in flood stage on this trip.
There’s a dock and ramp under those trees on the left.
On to Kansas City to meet up with Jennifer and Jamie and the SkillsUSA competition.  Thanks for joining us as we Cache along the road.
Hugs, Tom, Barbara & Pansy

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Visiting our nieces

Our trip as far as Wisconsin had to include our two McIntire nieces’ families, Natalie and Jerry McIntire and Colin, and Paige and Tracy Thomas and McKenzie, Shelby, and Calvin.  The first stop was the very small town of Viroqua, WI.  CIMG6361Although it is a small town Hwy US 14/US 61 runs right through town so traffic is more like Fresno than small town USA.   We found a very nice local park to stay at. There was lots of room, 30 amp, and quiet. The only downside was we had no internet and very little phone service. The park is on Sidie Hollow Creek a local fishing hole.  Only small boats are allowed on the lake formed by the creek.  When we were leveling up we saw a group of boys carrying a string of about 6 12” fish up from the creek. They looked like something out of a Mark Twain book. We found out later that one of the “Tom Sawyers” was actually our great-nephew, Colin. Did I say small town?



We spotted the Amish cart and even the boat trailer at the creek, but no horse.



The day we arrived Natalie & Jerry had potluck plans and invited us to join them. We had a great time and Jerry even did a slide show of their vacation in Costa Rica. This was so interesting and they are now planning on spending 9 months in Ecuador. What an enriching experience for Colin. 



Their friends have a beautiful place in a wooded area with no other house in sight. We enjoyed their two Corgis, the good company and the fresh trout that Colin had caught that day at fishing camp.

We asked what we should see the next day and Natalie said Colin was really looking forward to doing some geocaching.  Now, we thought that was a great suggestion and we loaded caches from as far away as 30 miles. You just can’t be too prepared.  The next day we were ready with our PN-40, the etrex Hcl, and the TomTom loaded about 300 caches.


We found many of the caches were puzzle caches that had been placed in cemeteries around Viroqua. It was great discovering these beautiful, well kept cemeteries. Natalie has lived here for several years and never knew these places existed. DSC03416

One of the caches that we found was at an old park. The description, “Welcome to Bloomingdale. This little park has the types of play equipment they don't allow anymore, since they are to "dangerous" Open center merry go round, steel slide with almost no edges, and a teeter totter!”  Now who could resist this warning? Not Colin and not Natalie!



All in all we found 8 caches, picked up 2 travel bugs, dropped 1 travel bug, Did Not Find 3, and just had a ball with Nat and Colin.  We had a delicious steak and chicken dinner at the McIntire’s complete with fresh asparagus and fresh strawberries from Nat’s garden over ice cream for desert. 

We left the next day for the Wisconsin Dells to see our other grand-nephew, Calvin, play in a baseball tournament. Unfortunately, Calvin’s team lost that game, but got the beautiful 2nd place trophy and Calvin was happy. They had done real well up to this game.


We all went to dinner at Famous Dave’s, Paige, Tracy, McKenzie, center; her friend, left; Shelby, lower left; Calvin, right; Tom & I. We remember the ‘olden days’ when we had to entertain the children while waiting for the food to arrive. That does not happen in these electronic times. Just see how the kids pass time now.


The Thomas’ left for Sussex, WI, for a late basketball game. These kids are very busy between all the sports, and cheerleading. And we went back to the RV park in The Dells.

The next day we drove to Sussex and stayed in the local Menominee Falls park. Though we did not have any hookups, the weather was pleasant, we had the whole parking lot to ourselves with security, and it was a bargain at $14.

DSC03445  DSC03443

We then drove over to see the progress on the Thomas’ new pool and see their new abode. At over 7,000 sq. ft. it is a little roomier than our 40’ Windsor.

CIMG6379 CIMG6378


The pool was supposed to be done by Wednesday, but because of the daily rain that has been the standard weather pattern, the pool looks like it will be delayed by several days.  We picked up Shelby and Calvin and took them back to the RV. We had lots of fun with the kids. We had no idea that playing with the RV door keypad could be so entertaining.  Shelby treated us to her interpretive dance.




Paige came home from work, Tracy went to a ball game, McKenzie was at cheer practice, and Tom & I had another delicious dinner prepared in tandem by Tracy and Paige with Paige and the two younger kids.  What a busy life this family lives. We had a wonderful time visiting our nieces and their families.

On the Road Again, Caching Places That We’ve Never Been…  Thanks for coming along.

Following in the Footsteps…

We are still on the Lewis and Clark trail. Though we have visited L&C sites from Harpers Ferry, Cahokia, Fort Dubois, and all the way to Fort Clatsup, OR, we have never been to Fort Mandan, ND. So we are on the way there now, but not before a couple of very interesting stops. Tom has always been interested in Fort Benton, an important fur trading station in Montana. We traveled up US 87, a nice easy ride with hardly any traffic. Tom says, “This is what I signed up for”.


CIMG6238The fort is along the Missouri Breaks, a series of badland areas characterized by rock outcroppings, steep bluffs and grassy plains along the Missouri River (I always thought they were in Missouri – another good geography lesson on the road).

We drove into the small town of Fort Benton. Although the streets are very narrow, there was hardly any traffic and we were able to park on the street across from the Fort. The people in this town were so friendly I think we could have parked here overnight if we wanted.

The oldest and original part of the Fort, which is said to be the oldest building in Montana continuously used is the Blockhouse. We were escorted in by our very knowledgeable guide.












Our guide led us into the the reconstructed trading post which was well supplied with original equipment.CIMG6246  CIMG6247








The Historical Society is working on building the next phase of the Fort. This is quite an undertaking for such a small town. CIMG6244

We decided to check out the Agriculture Museum, but I at first decided I did not need to see one more museum. Tom went in, saw the quality of this museum that displays much more that Agriculture implements, and came out and insisted I join him. I was not sorry.



We then hit the road and drove from Fort Benton on Hwy 87 to Havre, MO. Tom couldn’t resist taking these pictures – now that’s a collector!




We stayed at the Fairgrounds in Havre before driving to Fort Mandan.


This was a private museum unlike Fort Clatsup in Astoria, OR. It was well maintained and the explanations of the interactions between Lewis and Clark and the Indians in the area were enlightening.




As we were leaving Fort Mandan we walked to this huge statue of Seaman, Lewis and Clark’s Newfoundland dog.CIMG6316

There was a large beautiful museum associated with Fort Mandan and the fees were good for both. It was about 2 miles back to the highway and we stayed until it closed. This museum is highly recommended if you are Lewis and Clark fans. We finally made it here after many years of having this on our ‘bucket list’.CIMG6326






This canoe was made from a single log. The picture above is of a Mandan house. There was an excellent display of the paintings of George Catlin who painted this part of the country in the early 1800’s.

On the Road Again, Caching Places That We’ve Never Been…  Thanks for coming along on.