Saturday, June 25, 2011

Great Family, Good Food, and A Grand Function. Kansas City here we come.

We arrived on Monday around noon and our daughter, Jennifer, and granddaughter, Jamie, arrived around 6 P.M. and we went to one of our favorite BBQ restaurants, Bandanas.  We were also joined by Ted the Traveling Turtle.  You can follow Ted and also see some fascinating facts about his travels on his blog.  This was a week of volunteering at the SkillsUSA National Competition held at numerous venues throughout Kansas City: Kemper Arena, Bartle Hall, several hotels and Municipal Auditorium. Over 7,000 students competed in contests ranging from construction (cabinetmaking, residential plumbing, etc.) to automotive (collision repair, aviation Maintenance, Diesel Equipment Technology, etc.) to nursing and culinary occupations and many more.  It is an amazing competition to watch and one that instills pride in the youth of America that still honors hands on skills that built these United States and continues to support its productivity.

Most of the hands-on skill competitions take place under one roof on the 2 floors of Bartle Hall.


To see some more pictures of the competition you can check this website, Skills Pictures.

Jennifer has volunteered to help run the Job Interview Contest for over 15 years.  For several years she was the only one running that contest, getting over 20 judges, organizing the competition, and scoring the contestants.  It is a huge job and we are so proud of her and honored to help her in this endeavor.  We love hearing the responses to the Job Interview questions that these State Gold Medal winners give – inspiring. 

As soon as the final competition for the 2 day Job Interview competition was over, Jenny and Jamie left for California.  Jenny is a licensed pyrotechnic and has several fireworks shows to setup and shoot over the 4th of July holiday starting on July 2nd.  Last year we went home to help with some shows, but this year Jenny has an adequate crew.

We were staying for the Awards Ceremony, picking up our mail, and doing some shopping yesterday. 

We got a surprise phone call when shopping from our son, Jason. Our daughter-in-law, Olivia, broke her leg in 2 places the night before.  We sure wish her a speedy recovery as they have 2 very active boys, Logan, age 9 and a super active Ryan, age 3). 


About 4 p.m. we went to the  American Royal for the VIP reception. 


We received instructions for entering the Kemper Arena and took Ted’s body double stand-in to the ceremony. (Jenny made a photograph of Ted and then cut out around Ted… looks pretty real).  The reverse projection of the SkillsUSA logo is showing because we are actually back-stage going to our special seats in the arena.


There are 97 contests where Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals are awarded.  It is very well organized and we were finished in 3 hours even with 2 breaks for installations, recognitions, Harley Motorcycle giveaway, and a presentation by the CEO of Lowe’s who has pledged $5 million in support of SkillsUSA until 2014.

California received 7 Gold medals, 3 Silver medals, and 4 Bronze medals.  California has done better in the past (when Tom was a consultant for the CA Dept. of Ed., but that’s another story.)

Well over 10,000 students, advisors and support people were in the Kemper Arena and the atmosphere was electric.


Whew, the busy week was over and we sighed a great relief when we heard from Jenny that they were experiencing car trouble in Albuquerque.  We hope to hear more soon and hope they find and fix the trouble very soon without too much delay. We’re praying for both our children’s family even more now.  


We will be staying until Monday then heading to Edwardsville, IL, for the July 4th holiday.  We will be halfway between Alton and St Louis, a couple of our favorite places to watch fireworks. This is not even to mention Tom’s very favorite place for frozen custard, Bobby’s.

We may even be Caching on the Road Again real soon, Barbara, Tom & Pansy

Monday, June 20, 2011

Following the Flood–Part I

When we were in North Platte we knew there was a lot of water flowing in the rivers and streams. When we drove across Nebraska and into Missouri we started to see flooding on the Missouri River. We are seeing reports that these flooding conditions will be lasting through the summer. These are a few of the pictures we took as we crossed flooded roads.
Yesterday there was about 6 inches of water across the highway, I-29 here. The Highway Patrol was monitoring this situation. It is now closed.


 This is where we turned around as I-29 was closed down to Brownville, about 25 miles. Notice the 10-15 foot berms built to protect the businesses.

We decided to stop in St Joseph, MO, for 2 nights before getting into Lees Summit outside Kansas City as the weather was pretty bad around K.C.
We toured the river front today and this is the condition of the Missouri. Flood stage is 19 feet. The river is at 24’ today and rising. You can see the stairs that lead to the lower viewing platform that are now under water. The river is flowing real fast.

Another view of the viewing platform. There is only a thin yellow caution tape to keep people from the flooded area.

St. Joseph Riverfront - 2011

 This is the same area 3 years ago when we last visited St Joes. The strange part of this picture is that the river was then at flood stage and people were restricted from going down to this area. I guess they think people are now smart enough to stay away from danger. It really does look lots more dangerous this year.
St Joseph Riverfront - 2008

More about our travels along this stretch of the highway next time. We have gotten several caches, too, but more about that next time.
For now we will be Caching on the Road, Barbara, Tom and Pansy

Friday, June 17, 2011

On Our Way to Kansas City

We are 2 days away from Kansas City in the very little town of Waco, Nebraska, having driven from South Dakota to North Platte, NE.  On our way we drove through about 100 miles of Nebraska Sand Hills. This phenomenal land formation covers over 1/3 of the state. These are hills covered with prairie grasses that sit on top of shallow lakes. It is like the land has a water table of 3 feet.  There is water everywhere.  It is not ecologically suited for cultivation, only for cattle grazing.  There are lots of black angus herds happily grazing these hills.




We were planning on just staying overnight in North Platte when we looked at all the neat sights to see beginning with the largest railroad yard in the United States, the Union Pacific Bailey Yard.

This yard has 315 miles of tracks, is 8 miles long, and handles 12,000 railroad cars daily. It builds 125 trains every day that average 110 cars each.  We watched this panorama for over an hour; it almost looked like a toy train set, but it was real. 

The Bailey Yard in North Platte

We tore ourselves away because there was more to see in North Platte.  Next we went to the recommended Lincoln Co. Historical Museum and WWII Canteen Exhibit.  We knew there had been lots of rain in this part of the country, but this was the first time we’ve experienced the sandbagging. 


Even all the displays were up on blocks of concrete.  They think they still might flood and the sandbags will be in place through the summer.  Not since 1972 have they had this much rain and flooding.




I found most interesting exhibit was the WWII Canteen Exhibit.  From 1942 to 1945 the people of North Platte volunteered time, money, baked goods and lots of food to 6,000 soldiers every day as they  went to war on troop trains that stopped for only 10 minutes in North Platte.  Sixty years later many returned for a reunion.  Seeing a movie of these soldiers recalling how important those 10 minutes were brought tears to our eyes.  Everything was free to the soldiers: coffee, sandwiches on home made bread, cookies, donuts, and even 20 birthday cakes were given away a day just because it was important to make these men and women going to war feel important (even if it wasn’t their birthday).



This was a drainage ditch plow used to move water from the Platte River to water the crops then when floods came the drainage ditches moved the water back to the river. It took 30 head of oxen to pull this.



We went to the Cody Park to get ice cream cones and do some people watching. Nebraska people watching is the best. Then we went to see the Challenger, the largest unarticulated steam engine Alco ever built. Why? Because there was a cache within 100 feet AND because we love trains.



We saw lots of swollen rivers, streams and canals. We were parked right next to the South Platte River which was not overflowing its banks. Even so it was very full. 

This is the driveway leaving our RV park, Lakeside RV Park. It was a very nice PassPort America park and we will go back.



As we left this morning our destination was Waco, NE, but on the way we wanted to stop at the Buffalo Co. Fairgrounds in Kearney, NE.  Remember this was where the tornado destroyed the Exposition Center only 3 days after we were thinking we were cozy and safe inside.


Then the tornado did this.


We have checked on the rebuilding progress as we have passed through Kearney for the past couple of years.


So when we came through Kearney and were shown the rebuilt Exposition Center by Margaret, the Buffalo Fair Office Manager, we were so impressed. What a grand job they have done in providing this community with a beautiful and huge multi-purpose Center.



This long exhibit area is where our RV was parked in 2008.  Looking out these windows is the same view we saw out the big roll-up door. What a difference 3 years makes.


We are now settled in the friendly PassPort America RV Park, Double Nickels in Waco.  Although the reviews of this park were not complementary, we found the staff, grounds, and price ($14.92 inc. tax) just perfect.

Maybe we’ll be On the road again, caching places that we’ve never been…. or ….. maybe not…. tune in.