And I don’t mean just your parents, children or grandchildren. I mean those siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. In this very mobile, digital age families can be separated by hundreds of miles, by several states, or by several countries. But with the internet accessibility on our phones we can talk and see these people whenever we choose. We can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it’s nice to read where and what they are doing. However, it’s NOT the same as a good old fashion sit-down conversation with a glass of wine or cup of coffee or tea. I know.

The day the doctor called and told me my husband had a brain tumor (glioblastoma) and the prognosis was six months to a year, I was 900 miles away from all of my family and long-time friends.  I called my closest friend at the time and she came right over. I figured out that I needed to be honest with myself to survive and honest with my three children to help them survive this crisis. Members of my family did come and visit several times over the twenty-one months and twenty-three days before his death, at the age of forty, but there was a lot of time spent alone. During that time I realized I needed to move back home so I would be close to family and long-time friends for support.  That was 32 years ago.

Now, this reminds of a quote from Harry Potter when Dumbledore states, near the end of the fourth book (Goblet of Fire), “We all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” This is true for ALL aspects of our lives. We make many, many choices everyday. One of these easy choices is to just click “like” on a Facebook post or Twitter or quickly send a text,  but what may be the “right” thing to do is leave a comment or call or even go visit that family member or long-time friend. I’m guilty of clicking like and the texting thing, I know.  Making time for that phone call or that sit-down conversation isn’t always easy. That’s what I’ve tried to do this summer, make plans to have some of those sit-down conversations with family and long-time friends.

So my sister and I have visited several cousins on our mother’s side who we just don’t see enough. The Manchester cousins are the children of my mom’s brother. We went to see the fireworks on July 3rd in her backyard and got to have conversations with these cousins, their children and grandchildren. It was a wonderful evening. Then we went to her brother’s for the Manchester Chicken Broil in July. We not only got to have some more sit-down conversations with them, but also with our grandmother’s nephew, our second cousin (I think) from West Virginia and his wife, along with two of our cousins on our mother’s step-brother’s side, the Ypsilanti cousins. Yes, it gets a little complicated to say the very least. But this cousin’s mother (our aunt) always came to the Chicken broil and brought a german chocolate cake for my uncle’s birthday. However, she passed away this past January. So her youngest daughter drove down from Reed City for the day with THE german chocolate cake and her oldest brother drove out from Monroe. It was a magical evening carrying on some of our parent’s traditions. I’m sure they were all happy for us and partying in that great beyond.

Our family lost two aunts this year, one on my mother’s side in January and one on my father’s side in May. It’s a bitch getting old, older! I grew up visiting these families several times a year, on holidays, on birthdays and just to get together. My children didn’t have the same amount of contact with relatives that I did. We moved to Kansas City for their father’s job when my oldest was a junior in high school. Yes, it was tough on him. My oldest stayed in the Kansas City area. My daughter moved to Florida and now lives in Arkansas. And my youngest went to California. Yes, it’s not easy being a distant grandmother/Nana, but the time I spend with my grandchildren I always try to make it special. In this mobile era a lot of children have had to move away from their families for their jobs. It’s made it harder to stay in contact with those aunts, uncles and cousins.

My father’s family was large, he had ten brothers and sisters, and my siblings and I  have twenty-seven cousins on that side. His last surviving sister passed away in May. My sister, brother, and I went to the funeral and memorial dinner in June in Vernon. Unfortunately we arrived a half hour late because of the ugly traffic on U.S. 23. I was bummed. We still got to see many of those twenty-seven cousins, but didn’t get to have those good sit-down conversations with all of them. I did get to speak with our one remaining Aunt who was married to one of my father’s brothers. She is my idol because at 90 she still drives, does volunteer work and is sharp as a tack. We all love her.

My mom only had one brother and one step-brother and we have eight cousins on her side. However my maternal grandmother had three sisters and two brothers unfortunately we’re only in touch with one, the cousin from West Virginia. So the special get togethers are important. Growing up we only had TV, no computers, no internet, no cell phones, so visiting relatives was a major part of our entertainment.

I recently went camping with my sister, her brother-in-law, wife and some dear friends. This was our fourth year in a row, however we were missing one of the group this year. My brother-in-law passed away last October at the age of sixty-two. It was totally unexpected, there wasn’t any time to prepare, just that sudden gaping black hole of emptiness opened up for my sister and has almost swallowed her up. I know it takes time for the grief process. I know there are different stages of grief and that we all go through them differently, but, I also know that the one thing that helps and that helped me was family and long-time friends. We had a fun time in Oscoda and Tawas, with her brother & sister in-law and four friends. We went biking, kayaking, walking, we did karaoke singing, cooking, eating, and even cleaning together! But it was the sit-down conversations during breakfast, lunch and dinner that were so important. Therapy time for all of us.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this summer. With the loss of my aunts and my brother-in-law I know how important it can be to stay in touch, not just on FB or twitter or Instagram, but also in person. So, on our way home from Oscoda I felt it was important to attend our Reed City cousin’s memorial pig roast in honor of her mother, who passed away in January. I also felt it was important to spend the night, not only because it’s a long drive, but also so we could have some of those sit-down conversations with all five cousins and their spouses. We did and it was a great time.

This past Monday I discovered I’d double booked the weekend of our father’s side family reunion. Ugh! I hate it when I mess up! I created the Facebook page for this event. I sent out the group email. I’m the one who makes sure the dates are correct. How could I mess up and double book the weekend! Whew! Being human sometimes means we make stupid mistakes. I goofed made plans to go with my sister and two high school friends— yes, long-time friends—to one friend’s cottage in East Tawas. I didn’t see my note in the calendar for the family reunion. I had only put it for 4:00 Friday and not the whole weekend, so when I checked my phone calendar I didn’t scroll far enough. Damm. When I realized what I’d done I was pissed. Now what do I do? Do cancel the girls weekend? I know no other weekend works. Do I just not go to family reunion. That would be the easy way out, but I feel it is my responsibility and I feel it’s very important to attend these events for those sit-down conversations. I decided I needed to think about how to handle this mess. So I went to the library and did my volunteer work at the bookshop then when I got home, when I’m was calmer, I texted the girls. We figured it out. We can attend both events, Friday and Saturday with the girls and Sunday the family reunion.

This past Thursday my sister and I went to visit my long-time friend who lives on Portage lake. We’ve known each other since my oldest and her son were babies, half a century ago. We’d had lunch in June in Depot Town and made a plans to visit her in August. So we got to have a wonderful sit-down conversation lunch on her patio that looks out over the lake. Then she took us for  float boat ride around the lake stopping at a friends cottage for some more sit-down conversations. It was a perfect relaxing afternoon.

Yesterday, I received a text that another long-time friend’s mother-in-law passed peacefully away after her long battle with Alzheimer’s. Now I’ve tried several times to make plans to get together with this friend but it hadn’t worked out. Yes! We now have plans to have lunch the last Thursday or Friday in August. Woohoo!

This blog post has taken me all week to write. I’ve written and rewritten it several times. I’ve deleted, added, and moved paragraphs to make it “flow,” as I tell my students. And now I realize one of those deleted paragraphs actually mentioned my children. My sister and I visited my daughter and her family in Arkansa in May (see previous posts) and we got to spend one night with my oldest son and family in the Kansas City area. I talked to my youngest son this past Tuesday and my oldest son on Wednesday. I’m not sure when I will see them next but usually it’s during the holidays. Today my sister and I are going to my nephew’s House Warming so we will get to have some sit-down conversations with our brother and other sister and all of their kids. It should be a fun afternoon.

It’s not always easy but it is important to keep in touch with family and long-time friends.

 

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We were on the road around 9:45 Tuesday morning, heading north on I 35 through Kansas City. I love the KC skyline, even though it has changed a lot since I first saw it in 1983. My favorite is, what my family calls the “candle building,” the Power and Light building, built in 1931. At night it has changing colored lights at the top. Winding our way through the city passed the Liberty Memorial, passed the cathedral where I sang in the choir, and then across the newest bridge— the Christopher S. Bond that replaced the Paseo bridge in 2010 — that goes over the Missouri river.  KC is a town of many bridges. I even photographed many of them when I lived there in the hopes of writing a book one day.

We made our first stop at Cameron, MO at a McDonald’s around 11:30 for a potty stop and late breakfast. We can always count on them to have clean bathrooms and good coffee. My sister likes her coffee. I like the egg & cheese biscuit. Toby likes to just get out walk, sniff, and piddle. We then headed east on US 36. I love this route, it is much better then I 70 because there is a lot less traffic and I always like to stop in Hannibal, MO.

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Hannibal has a wonderful river front area and is the birth place of Mark Twain, so there’s a museum and lots of little antique shops. We had a late lunch at a little cafe antique shop around 1:30 then crossed the mighty Mississippi heading east on 72 to Springfield, Illinois.

My sister had done a little research on her phone and in the Route 66 book and had found a pet friendly Route 66 hotel in Springfield, so at lunch I’d made reservations. We arrived around 4:00 and were very surprised to discover this hotel was the first Holiday Inn on Route 66! IMG_0916

Yes, an older building but the room was clean with all the amenities, TV, Internet, refrigerator, and microwave. After settling into our room we explored the building.

 

In the lobby was a 1941 Model T! Along a large hall, off the lobby, were glass display cases with all sorts of nostalgic pieces,

 

I loved the old porcelain ice box and stove, great historical pieces.

 

 

Then we decided to drive to downtown Springfield to visit some of the Lincoln spots, like his historical home, library and museum, however it was after 5:00 so everything was closed. Darn! I guess we will have to do this next time. So we headed back to our hotel looking for a place to have dinner. We stopped at Darcy’s Pint because there were a lot of cars in the parking lot, a good sign. I had salmon for the second time this trip, unfortunately I never had catfish, which is what I usually get while in this area. Oh well, next time!

The next morning we drove across the street to the McDonald’s for our usual back-on-the road breakfast. Our next Route 66 stop would be Atlanta, Illinois, I had marked this in my original research to see the Paul Bunyan statue holding a hot dog. Something unique!

Atlanta is well worth the stop because it not only has the Paul Bunyan Muffler Man statue (Taylor doesn’t say why it has muffler in the name) , which was moved here from a Hot Dog Stand in Cicero in 2003, but also a Route 66 Arcade Museum, the 1901 Seth Thomas Clock at the library, and the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum (Taylor 58). The volunteer in the Arcade Museum was super fun to talk to and gave us a little tour. To our surprise upstairs they have a whole room devoted to Lincoln, because Atlanta was part of his circuit. We told her we are related to Lincoln’s mother, she said we were the first visitors to tell her that.

 

She suggested we take a little walk to the grain elevator because we would pass the library with the Seth Thomas Clock.

 

I didn’t take any photos of the clock or library, instead I took a photo of the old windmill at the edge of the train tracks we crossed to get to the grain elevator. It was a beautiful day, however we needed to get back on the road if we were to get home before dark, our next stop would be Joliet.

The most surprising aspect of this Route 66 Road Trip was that everywhere we stopped there were friendly volunteers to share all sorts of fascinating information. It was like this stretch of road holds some magical force that you can feel where ever you stop.

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Back on US 55 headed north to Joliet we decide to stop at the Joliet Route 66 Diner for lunch, before running the gauntlet passed Chicago. Again we were not disappointed, however I did not have their specialty a Monte Cristo per Taylor (44), instead I had a chicken salad croissant special for the day. It came with fries and a large dill pickle. Yum. My sister had soup and a sandwich, maybe a BLT. All I remember is it was way more than she could eat. While we were in the diner, Toby ate in his carseat with all the windows down a couple inches.

After our lunch stop we got on the turnpike I 80 to 94 north. This is the one stretch of road I’m always happy to be done with! Back in Michigan I asked my sister if she would mind stopping at Bridgeman. She says “you’re driving.”

Bridgeman’s Weko Beach holds a lot of memories for me. I think of it as my therapy spot. I love sitting on the beach and listening to the waves lap against the sand, it is the most relaxing sound. So we got off the highway and drive to the beach for our last stop of this Route 66 Road Trip.

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The little snack bar was open, so we got ice cream and sat on a bench at the edge of the beach and just enjoyed the view, of the flattest Lake Michigan I’ve seen in a long time.

We got back on the road again and arrived at my sister’s around 8:00, woohoo before dark. I was home about fifteen minutes later, unloaded the car and warmed up my leftovers from the night before that I’d put on ice in the cooler.

It’s always good to get home after being away for a week or more. Home, were we can just relax and go to sleep in our own bed. However, it is also sad, the time always seems to go by way too fast.

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I really hope to drive more of Route 66 next year. For now, I’m just really glad we took the time to stop at as many spots as we could along Historic Route 66. I highly recommend this road trip.

 

 


Nestled in the hills of northwest Arkansas is the Dobson Lodge, my daughter and son-in-law’s home for visitors and large get togethers. They actually live in a Tiny Home across the road. We arrived around 7:00 pm and were treated to a yummy dinner of lasagna, salad and garlic bread. My sister and I moved into our rooms, she took the master suite and I took the memory music room where my painting and photos hang. As a special surprise that evening, my granddaughter serenaded us with her guitar. She’s been taking lessons from her

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great-grandfather for a little of a year. She played songs she had learned such as, Riders in The Sky, Crazy, and Snow Bird. My sister accompanied. It was a wonderful evening.

The next day my daughter had to work so we went with my son-in-law and granddaughter to her guitar lesson with her great-grandfather. She is also getting lessons on the banjo! We were there for a couple hours, for some great music and fun. Great grandpa has taught a lot of musicians who plan at Branson, MO  and other places.  He plays the banjo.

For lunch we went to  the War Eagle Mill and ate at the Bean Palace, which is on the third floor. Yum! We did a little shopping in the gift shop then off to the post office and finally to Sunrise Guitars in Fayetteville. My sister liked my granddaughters 3/4 size guitar so much she bought one for herself.

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Strummin together in the backyard just like Two Peas in a Pod! They had a great time sharing songs. For dinner that night we met my daughter and son-in-laws mother at the East Side Grill for dinner. It is known for its great steaks, however I had the salmon my favorite.

 

 

The Next day my daughter took us to Eureka Springs. Our first stop was at the Quigley Castle, the Ozark’s Strangest Dwelling! You can see the individual squares that Elise Quigley created for the exterior of the house. She also created a multitude of items, bird baths, a mailbox, fences, tables. and other sculptures for the grounds. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places and it’s been featured on HGTV. It really is worth the visit.

 

 

Our second stop was the Onyx Cave. My daughter and her family love caves and Arkansas has a multitude of caves you can visit. Then it was lunch time so we drove to downtown Eureka Springs. We ate outside on the patio of the Beer Garden, where Toby could join us. The waiter even brought him a large bowl of water. After delicious BBQ and nachos we perused many of the gift shops.

 

 

Ceci was glad to be with Toby again. They became best friends last year on our Bucket List Road Trip. Eureka Springs had a parade that day and music in the park, so we got ice cream and sat in the shade for a little while between shopping. Since the town is on the edge of the Ozarks there are several levels, below is one of the stairs connecting the streets, a great spot for a photo. Eureka Springs is also the sight for several motorcycle events and there were a lot in town that day.

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That evening we had grilled chicken, garlic roasted potatoes, corn and salad at the lodge. There was a little more guitar playing and a movie, Total Recall. It had been a long day so we were in bed by 11.

Sunday my sister and I enjoyed the front porch of the lodge, drinking our coffee and reading, while trying to figure out the different birds serenading us. Around 11:30 we met my daughter at her church on our way to pick up her friend for out visit to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Crystal Bridges architecture and grounds are just as beautiful and fascinating as all the art work inside.

 

 

Crystal Bridges is a series of buildings with the armadillo looking roofs that were built over Town Branch Creek. This was my second visit, I love the huge spider sculpture in the courtyard.  The large white spherical sculpture (above) is in the process of being installed.

 

 

Mary Cassatt and Louise Nevelson (above) are a couple of my favorite artists. I love going to museums in different cities because you can count on the restaurants or cafes having the best food. The menu may be small but trust me the food is always wonderful. We ended up eating a late lunch at 2:00. I had the Chef’s Choice Quiche and glass of white wine. Afterwards we finished walking through the museum and took my daughter’s friend back to her car. It was a wonderful afternoon. That evening we went to see King Arthur. It’s great action filled movie, but if you’re an Arthurian aficionado the director, Guy Richie, messed with the legend’s chronological order of Mordred. The movie is based on legends about the sword, Excalibur, and its effect on Arthur when he puts both hands on the hilt that part I thought was very good.

The next day was Memorial Day and my sister and I were heading to the Kansas City area to spend one short night with my oldest son and his family before heading back home via a few more Route 66 stops. Before leaving we had a wonderful breakfast together, packed the car and then the hugging began.

 

 

We headed north on US 49 that goes all the way to Kansas City. However, at Joplin, MO I goofed and took the by-pass that isn’t finished yet! We ended up in downtown Joplin so we headed west on 166 and picked up US 69 north in Baxter Springs, Kansas. It was meant to be because 166 is part of Route 66! I actually liked this way better because there was a lot less traffic and it’s a prettier drive through small towns, it’s a two-way highway until you get to Fort Scott, Kansas.

We arrived at my son and daughter-in-law’s home in Spring Hill, Kansas around 2:00 to a patio party with some of their friends. We had a super Memorial Day dinner of grilled hamburgers & hot dogs, potato salad, and yummy grilled Mexican corn.

IMG_0904I gave my daughter-in-law her birthday gift I’d bought at War Eagle Mill. We chatted and watched the guys play a few games of horseshoes. As you can see, Toby felt right at home with Mia, their big golden lab. They also have a beautiful golden retriever, Gunner and three cats, Bummer, Rocky, and Sterling.

My grandson arrived while we were eating, he just finished his associated degree and is going on the Engineering school in the fall. The older grandson just graduated from KU and is going on to nursing school in the fall. He was on a trip to Costa Rica. It was a very relaxing day and evening, but a very short visit.

The next morning my sister and I got back on the road for some more Route 66 fun on our way home.

 


My sister, Toby (my little Yorkie) and I set out on May 24th to visit my daughter in Arkansas and my oldest son in Kansas City. I decided to make the drive a little more interesting by experiencing some of the stops along old route 66 via US 55 from Joliet to St. Louis then St. Louis to Springfield, Missouri.

Leaving Ann Arbor we drove west on I 94 to Joliet, Illinois then south on US 55. The original Route 66 begins in Chicago. I’d done a little research and created a list of possible stops and emailed it to to my sister, so she could read about them before we left. I also borrowed a book on route 66 and two James Patterson mysteries from the library to listen to along the way. The book, Route 66 Road Trip by Candacy Taylor,  is chronologically organized by towns and states starting with Chicago. My list started around Springfield, Illinois and went to Springfield, Missouri.

Listening to Patterson’s murder mystery with Alex Cross got us past Chicago with little stress. Ready for a break, our first stop was at Pontiac, Illinois at around 1:00 for lunch at the Old Log Cabin (photo of part of the board in the lobby). There was a bus load of people just finishing up their lunch so the small dining room area was a little full. The waitress showed us to a table and gave us menus. We both ordered a gooOld Log Cabind old fashion BLT. She later brought us two log books, one to sign and one to read. This happened in almost every place we stopped. It was amazing to read all the different entries and where they were from.  These logbooks are an indication of how nostalgic and unique this road trip  really can be. We both signed the book then got back on the road after I took Toby out to piddle. He ate his lunch in his car seat in the car. He’s a pretty good little traveler. This wasn’t his first rodeo.

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We saw a lot of signs like these every time we got off the highway.

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Our second stop was in Litchfield, Illinois at the Ariston Cafe. Started in 1927 and run by the Adams family for over ninety years it “is one of the longest operating restaurants on Route 66” (Taylor 65). It has a great menu at decent prices, however we had both been snacking, so we just ordered drinks and the crunchy portabella mushrooms strips with ranch and blue cheese dressing for dunking. They were delicious. Then for dessert we had to stop at to the A&W for a root beer float to suck on on our way to St. Louis.

We arrived at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch in St. Louis around 4:30. Our room was on the tenth floor and we had a great view of the Mississippi river and part of the arch.  The renovations to the park around the Arch are about a third done, it is suppose to be completed next year. We got unpacked and took a walk along the Mississippi river. The river was really high. just above flood stage. A lot of the river boat docking steps were under water.

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I rode the Arch in 1973 with my husband and youngest son, it is a fantastic experience. Unfortunately it was closed. We ate dinner at Carmen’s Steak House around 8:00 then retired to bed. We’d had a long day.

The next morning when we took Toby for a walk, we walked around the old capital building then decided to visit the Chain of Rocks Bridge and maybe the Blueberry Hill restaurant. We made it to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, but didn’t have time for Blueberry Hill, maybe next time.

Our third stop was The Chain of Rocks Bridge located north of St. Louis at Madison, IllIMG_0763inois. The bridge was built in 1928 and opened for traffic in 1929. It is very unique because the mile long bridge has a twenty-four degree turn as you can see in the photo below. Per the postcard I bought, the initial toll was a whopping 5 cents! And only 25 cents when it closed in 1968.  It sat for thirty-one years before it was made a national hiking and biking trail.

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We had to stop at the Missouri visitor center off  270 to get directions to the entrance. The entrance is on the Illinois side and is a little tricky to get to, but we arrived around 10:30. It was a beautiful day for walking across the bridge, even Toby enjoyed the almost two mile walk.

If we were to get to my daughters in Wesley, Arkansa by 5:00 we needed to get back on the highway. We took US 44 out of St. Louis towards Springfield, Missouri.

Our fourth stop was at the former Times Beach “once the site of a resort community founded in 1925” and is now Route 66 State Park (Taylor 91). The State Park Visitor Center is the “former Bridghead Inn, a 1935 roadhouse that displays photos and Route 66 memorabilia” (91). This also took several wrong turns to find but was well worth it.

The friendly volunteers at the center were very informative.  The photo below shows the highlight of the museuIMG_0779m, a Yamaha Route 66 motorcycle. This special model was only built from 1988 to 1989. We spent way too much time here but it was fascinating. This is also the sight of another bridge that has been closed for a while, however, they are hoping to make it a hiking and biking bridge in the near future.

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We ended up eating our lunch at the picnic table in front of the center then got on the highway again. We would not be able to make any of the stops in Springfield, Missouri I had initially picked that would have to be next time.

 

 

In Springfield we headed south on US 65 past Branson, Missouri to Arkansas. We arrived at the Dobson Lodge around 7:00 for a wonderful dinner of Lasagna and salad. We spent a wonderful fun filled four days with my daughter, husband, and granddaughter.

More to come in my next post!


In February I tried posting to my blog for several days. I’m not sure what the problem was but today when I logged in and did a test post it worked! So, here I go again. A lot has happened since last August. however I’m not going to bore you with all the details. I think I’m just going to try writing at least once a week about whatever is going on in my life at the time. I write in a journal every day. I post to my Twitter account my gratitude for the day, but it is the blogging I’ve missed. Blogging is where you tell a story about life.

Next week my sister, Lorrie, and I are heading to Arkansas to visit my daughter and granddaughter Ceci, my little Bucket List Road Trip partner. Part of this road trip is going to be a discovery trip of the historic Route 66 between Springfield, Illinois and Springfield, Missouri. I’ve been online researching some possible places we can stop at for lunch or gas or just a break. Holy smokes, there is a ton of stuff out there on this iconic route.

So stay tuned for updates on our little Route 66 road trip.


Friday July 8th

Got up around 8:30 . . .

I hate writing this last chapter because that means it’s over, finished, done. And I don’t mean just the Bucket List Road Trip, I mean the four weeks of seeing my children and most of my grandchildren and spending time with them. When you live far away from your kids every minute you get to spend with them is precious. It also means the summer is half over and soon I will have to get back into teaching mode, updating syllabi, projects, readings, etc. for fall. I will also have to attack all that teacher research data I gathered last year. Yes, we all hate for fun times to be over but reality rears its ugly head and we trudge on. The great and wonderful thing about this “reality” is that I’m typing this at my dinning room table that has a beautiful view and a cool breeze coming off the lake! I’m still getting used to my new home. Back to the trip.

I took a shower, got Ceci up and repacked the cooler, suitcase, and backpack for our final drive back to KC. We had breakfast in the dining room and that is when I realized we had lost an hour returning to Sioux Falls. It was 10:30 not 9:30! We were suppose to check out by 11. Oops! Back on the road heading south we stopped for lunch just past Omaha, NE at a McDonalds on route 75. I wanted to make sure Ceci  and I could say we had been in Nebraska because I bought her a state magnet for all the states we went through. Starting with Arkansa, then Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. So, we drove south for about twenty-five miles before getting back on I29 south. I stopped for gas and there was a fruit & vegetable stand next door. I bought a watermelon and cantaloupe to take to my son’s, thumping and smelling them the way my dad always did to make sure they were ripe. Tomorrow is the big 75th birthday party for my daughter-in-laws dad. I pretty much planned the whole trip around this event.

We arrived at my son’s around 5:30. My daughter-in-law was outside watering her flowers with the three dogs, Lucy, Mia, and Gunner.

Ceci and I have traveled over two thousand miles together and I had now driven 3304 miles of the Bucket List Road Trip. The end of a trip is always somewhat IMG_0727 (1)anticlimactic. All the anticipation, all the expectation, all the planning comes to an end. We did it, my little co-pilot, Toby, and I! We visited Mount Rushmore and many other places! We got to know each other a little better, and yes I learned to love that look! That look that means, Nana you are crazy.

Saturday July 9th

The next day my daughter arrived around 11:00, my daughter-in-law had to leave shortly there after. She needed to pick up  all the items for the big party at 1:00, held at their favorite restaurant. It turned out to be an AWESOME party. A few of my favorite parts were the interaction of my kids and grandkids. And there is that LOOK I always get, even from my grandsons, when I take the photo!

After the festivity was over and back at my son’s, we had grilled burgers, potato salad, and the watermelon! I wished I would have gotten a picture that evening of all seven of us, including the four dogs, snuggled up on the couch, in the chairs, and on the floor as we watched the movie Everest. It was a very special time.

Sunday July 10th

The next morning breakfast consisted of cantaloupe, watermelon, and Wall Drug homemade donuts as Ceci, my daughter, and I wrote in our journals and waited for the rest of the inhabitants to wake up.

Eventually all are awake and discussing the plans for the day. My daughter and Ceci were headed back to Arkansa, my son was headed out on his motorcycle for a ride with some buddies he hadn’t seen in a while, my daughter-in-law planned to mow the lawn, my oldest grandson was headed back to KU, the younger grandson needed to mow his grandfather’s lawn,  and Toby and I were headed back to Michigan.

I left around 12:45 and drove until nine that night  and stopped at another Best Western near Pontiac IL, about 50 miles south of Jolliet. I like to go past Chicago either midmorning or late evening because of all the traffic.

Monday July 11th

I got back on the road again around 8:30 the next morning. No problems passing Chicago. I finally arrived at Weko Beach, Bridgeman Michigan around 1:00  for lunch. Toby and I ate lunch on the dog beach. Yes, they have a beach designated for dogs. It’s one of the reasons I love it! I first camped at Weko beach the summer of 1984 when we drove home to Kansas City, after my husband’s experimental treatment, of radio active isotopes, for his brain tumor at the U of M hospital. I camped again in late summer of 1985 for what I called my sabbatical from caregiving. This beach represents a lot of memories full of laughter and tears. So every time I can I stop. The sound of Lake Michigan lapping, splashing against the sand is music to my soul and rejuvenates me.

It was beastly hot, so Toby and I got up several times and got our feet wet to cool off. The first time I did this I happened to look down and there by my foot was a small Petoskey stone. I picked it up and put it in my journal. The perfect ending for the Bucket List Road Trip.IMG_0745

I arrived home around 5:00, I had driven 4093 miles! I really had to rush to get Toby settled and the car partially unpacked,  my first drawing class started at 6:00! I called my friend to let her know I would be a little late.

The Bucket List Road Trip was worth every minute.

 

 


Wed. July 6th.

We got up early had breakfast, took down the tent, deflated the wonderful bed, packed the car and were on the road by 9:30. We headed west to Sturgis, SD. My oldest has been to Sturgis for the Harley Davis motorcycle raleigh several times and said we needed to visit Devil’s Tower WY. When I got of I90 I turned the wrong way and had to wait for a train to pass. We counted 46 cars! Ceci thought that was pretty cool. I turned around and went to the information center and asked where the post office was. Ceci and I wrote postcards and mailed one to her sister and another the my two California grandkids. In our selfie, the tiny white letters in the side of the mountain says Sturgis. We got back onIMG_0695 I 90 and headed for Wyoming to see Devil’s Tower the setting for Spielberg’s  movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

It took longer than expected because of road work. I took this pic of Ceci at the Wyoming visitor center.

IMG_0696  By the time we got to Devil’s Tower it was raining again and there was a LONG line to get into the park. So we ate our lunch in the car in the Devil’s Tower Trading Post parking lot then got ice cream and a pin for Ceci’s collection.

By the time we got here we had seen Devil’s Tower from all angels. I had not originally planned this into our trip, but I’m very glad we got to see it. I need to watch the 1977 movie again.

When we got back on the highway headed east  we had a huge storm to our right or the south of us. As we drove we viewed this storm from three sides. Ceci took pics of it as we drove. We felt like “Storm Chasers”! Here are a few.

Yes, there were Tornado Warnings! You could see the swirling clouds. Thank goodness we were able to stay ahead of it as we drove back to Wall, SD. I had reservations for the night at Days Inn, however when we got there they did not accept pets. Ugh! But they directed us to Motel 6, which actually worked out very well. The manager and clerk told us the tornado warning had been lifted. It did rain most of the evening, however Ceci was thrilled because we got to go to Wall Drug again, after having dinner at the Cactus Cafe.

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Thursday July 7th.

We also went to Wall Drug for breakfast the next day! Yes, I got 5 cent coffee! Ceci loved taking selfies! She is wearing her mother’s 30+ year old Disney World hat. The whole block behinds us is Wall Drug. We could not visit the Wounded Knee Museum because it was closed and will reopen in a new location in 2017, so we headed for the Badlands National Park.

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Toby in his car seat pose that means “Are we there yet?”

We entered the northern entrance to the Badlands and stopped at about half of the scenic spots taking photos each time.

The landscape makes you fell like you are on another planet. Its beautiful and scary all at the same time. We had a great time taking photos of each other, getting in and out of the car. Sometimes taking Toby and sometimes just leaving him in the car with the windows cracked, but never for more than 10 or 15 minutes.

As we drove we saw a lot of prairie dogs. We also had a couple eagles swoop down in front of our car, one even had its dinner in its talons. But the best were the two mountain goats that ended up stopping and looking right at as Ceci as she took a pic from out of the sun roof of the car.

DSC_0038 At the end of the scenic drive we stopped at the Badland’s Gift Shop and bought, four tank tops as gifts, 2 pairs of earrings and a pin for Ceci. Then we drove across SD  and stopped at Interior. A very small town and mailed Christony her gift and card at the little post office. Then we drove north to I 90 and arrived in Sioux Falls around 5:30 that evening. We stayed at a Best Western Plus.

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We got to swim in one of the three pools, we ordered room service and watched The Jungle Book. Ceci was thrilled! She had me take a picture of her floating.

It was a perfect final day and evening for our Bucket List Road Trip together.  Tomorrow we had back to Kansas City!

 


Sunday July 3, 2016

We got on the road at about 3:00 after doing some laundry, taking a fewIMG_0650 pics with the grandsons, giving everyone hugs, and stopping at the store to get more provisions. My plan was to get to Sioux Falls, SD that evening. We will be back in five days.

Yes, I’m really going to see Mount Rushmore! With my little co-pilot, Ceci, and my little lover puppy, Tobias Lorenzo.

We stopped for a potty break near Council Bluffs, IA around 7 that night. I love my Ford C-Max! I get almost 600 miles to a tank if I don’t go over 72 mph. As I wrote in my journal: “Saw gas was almost empty, only had 32 miles left.” There is a town in 24 miles that’s cutting it a little short. Sometimes I forget I even need gas. So, IIMG_0652 reduced my speed to 60 mph to make sure we make it. We did! No “unfortunate events!” I filled up with 12.9 gallons. The car holds 14. I did NOT let it get under 100 miles the rest of the trip.

We stopped at La Quinta hotel in Sioux Falls SD, a pet friendly hotel, around 10:00 for the night. The next day we drove across South Dakota to Rapid City, after what Ceci thought was the best breakfast ever, of English muffin with strawberry cream cheese & strawberry jam! I had eggs, sausage and yogurt, so Toby could lick the container when I got to the car.

The landscape is very, very FLAT compared to driving in Arkansa. Big Sky country and the speed limit is 80 mph on the expressway! Ate they crazy? Thank goodness there are not very many cars and trucks. IMG_0661 (1)I drove 75 mph and it dropped gas milage a lot, so coming back I only went 70. At the first sign of the Badlands we stopped and I let Ceci take a few pics by standing up through the sun roof. She thought this was great fun.

The crazy thing was I kept seeing signs for Wall Drug! It seemed like one every couple of miles for “5 cent coffee”, “Free Water” “Homemade Pie” etc. etc. So of course we have to stop! Wall SD is about 50 miles east of Rapid City and I had planned to visit the Wounded Knee Museum in Wall, so we had a reservation for a Days Inn, unfortunately it was closed until 2017.

So we stop at Wall Drug, which is the biggest tourist trap ever. It takes up a full city block and has all sorts of little stores inside, as well as a huge Jack-a-lope to take your picture riding.

Ceci absolutely loved this place! I on the other hand just wanted to get to our campsite and setup. But Wall Drug sucked us in.  I ended up buying her a t-shirt for the Black Hills, socks for both of us, camp cups, and Ice Cream that we took back to the car and I shared with Toby.

We finally arrive at Mystery Mountain Resort, got camp all set up and I began cooking dinner: kielbasa, zucchini, onions, peppers (green, red & yellow) & a potato,  on my little camp stove. I had the radio playing, everything was going well until, you guessed it! It began to RAIN. So, I grabbed my umbrella from the car,  while Ceci got everything else including Toby into the tent, and I stood over the camp stove so our dinner could finish cooking! We ended up eating in the tent.

Yes, that is my new little camp cup with WINE in it! Ceci saying “This is DELICIOUS!” I laughed and took a sip of wine. I love camping! It quit raining about fifteen minutes later, Ceci helped me dry the picnic table off and I heated up some water to wash our few dinner dishes. It’s the 4th of July, this is my Bucket List place, so I say “Let’s go check out Mount Rushmore!” It is only about 20 minutes away according to the map on my iPhone. So off we go! Our first glimpse is from an overlook.

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When we arrived at the entrance there were a lot of cars inline to park. The pass I got is good until December! We had to leave Toby in the car with the windows cracked and a dish of water. The car is parked in the bottom floor of the parking structure and he is in his car seat. He will be fine. The ticket lady said the lighting ceremony would start around 9:00, this is when I realize we have gained an hour, I thought it was 10. We are on Western time! We went up a couple flights of stairs and walked across a big open area filled with people. We can hear a band playing somewhere down below. We get as close to the front as possible, but Ceci still can’t see. So I tapped a young girl in front of us on the shoulder, who has space on both sides of he,r and ask if Ceci could stand next to her. She says sure! Her parents are right next to me and we begin to chat. I say, I didn’t know about this event, just came to see Mount Rushmore and they laughed and said they did the same thing. We all laughed. Come to find out their daughter, Amy,  is the same age as Ceci AND they have the same birthday! July 11th they will be 11. Freaky and amazing!

A speaker announces the National Anthem will be sung and then a Lakota indian with sing the Flag Song, after which they will turn on the lights. During the Flag Song everyone got really quiet, it was very cool. Then the lights illuminated the four presidents. Happy 4th of July!

I took a few photos, we said good bye to Amy and her parents as the crowd began to disperse. What a magical evening.

On the way back to the campground it begins to POUR again! Driving in pouring rain is not my favorite thing. Luckily it stopped by the time we got back to camp, so we walked to the bathroom with our flashlights and then crawled into our sleeping bags and read for a little while before falling to sleep.

Tuesday July 5th

The next morning I’m up as usual around 7:30, took Toby out, got the coffee plugged in and lite the stove for breakfast. We had hardboiled eggs, sausage, bagel on a stick, and yogurt. When I got this already I went to wake Ceci up. I remind her we have a full day ahead so we need to get going. To my great surprise she is up and she brings both of our journals out to the picnic table so we can write. Woohoo!  She is getting into the journal writing thing. She’s practicing “habits of mind” I tell her. I laugh when she won’t start today’s entry, she has toIMG_0679 write everything she did for the previous day before she will start the next day. I on the other hand like to start each day and then I fill in things I’ve done and seen at night or the next day. I tell her it is OK, because everyone has a different writing routine. I’m just pleased she is writing!

We got to Mount Rushmore (1927-1941) around 10:30. Again we left Toby in the car with windows cracked and dish of water in his seat. I bought tickets for the walking audio tour. The tour starts with the walk of flags part and I took a pic of Ceci under the Arkansa flag. Then we skipped to #10 and began the Trail of Presidents part of the tour. I wanted to make sure we didn’t leave Toby in the car for more than an hour or so.

The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, originally wanted to sculpt only Washington and Lincoln but later added Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt. The trail leads you down a path where you first just see George Washington. The audio tour explains Borglum’s reasoning for picking each president. Washington, the father of our country, Lincoln, ending slavery and preserving the Union, Jefferson for envisioning the future, and Roosevelt because he loved nature and started several of the National Parks, in essence he was the first environmentalist.  I highly recommend getting the audio tour when visiting this monument.  DSC_0126

After each explanation you could choose to listen to further information. Ceci did this several times. We had a beautiful day for our tour.

We did the tour in an hour and a half including a short stop at the bookshop, where I got Ceci a small book on the presidents. I’m really glad we came here. It has made me more appreciative of our heritage, of our government.

We then headed to see the Crazy Horse Memorial that is about a  twenty minutes south, in the Black Hills National Forest. The cool thing about Crazy Horse was that I was able to carry Toby throughout the museums! The only place he couldn’t go was the restaurant, but they had seating outside and I got us lunch at the cafe. We even watched a documentary (with Toby in my lap) about Korczak Zoilkowski, the sculptor, and his family that started the largest mountain carving in 1948. This is a non-profit Foundation run by the Zoilkowski children, who oversee all aspects, sculpting, managing the museums, gift shop, and a university. There is absolutely no government money paying for this monument that is to be the largest mountain carving in the world. It really is impressive. The head of Crazy Horse is done and you can get the general ideal of his arm is pointing towards the land where his ancestors lie.

 

I was totally blown away by the size of the project and that this is non-profit, but after doing a little online research there seems to be a lot of controversy as to whether this is really a Native American memorial, defacing a beautiful mountain and where is the money really going. I’m just glad we took the time to go see this memorial.

Next stop for the day, Custer, SD, where I took Ceci’s pic in front of some of the buffalos they have on every corner of town. From there we drove to the entrance of Custer State Park, so we could drive by the three scenic stops I’d marked on the map, instead of just driving back to camp. The Black Hills have some incredible scenic drives.

This was Cathedral Spires. There is a mile hike into the center of this. Cec really wanted to hike the mile long trail. We walked about 3/4 of it. I decided not to do the whole thing because it was 5:30 and we still had another nine miles of mountain switch backs to drive!

Next scenic stop, the Needles Eye! Just before you get there you drive through a fairly long tunnel. It is impressive and magical.

This had been a very long day with a lot crammed into it. So on the way back to camp I decided we would stop in Keystone for dinner. We ate at Peggy’s Place. I had a steak and Ceci had chicken strips. When we were paying for our dinners I see they have pie, so we get pie to go! I got apple and Ceci got chocolate.

We arrived back at camp around 9:00. I lit some of the charcoal I’d bought for a campfire because there was  a restriction on wood campfires. We sat at the picnic table and had our pie while writing in our journals, but we were both tired and ended up going to bed around 10:00. What a fantastic day we had. I’ve knocked off one of my bucket list items! Tomorrow we go to see Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.


Friday July 1, 2016

IMG_0623.JPGWoke up to sunshine after a night of pouring rain. Had a great time watching NCIS on my daughter’s computer with the granddaughter in the tent on the comfy bed. We all went to sleep around 11 to the sound of the rain on the tent. It really is a great sound, as long as there’s NO wind.

I made the coffee, got out all the breakfast stuff: hardboiled eggs, sausage, bagels, cereal & milk, strawberries & blueberries, and lite my new little camp stove. My daughter got Ceci going, she is not a morning person just like my daughter was at that age. I also got out our comp book journals. I gave Ceci hers yesterday and introduced her to Lynda Barry’s simple format: a list of at least 7 things you did and 7 things you saw, 1 thing you heard and draw 1 thing you saw for each day. IMG_0600She wasn’t totally thrilled about doing this, but did great the first day. However, as I discovered during the trip, she absolutely insisted on finishing one day before starting the next. LOL! My daughter home schools Ceci and really liked the idea of her keeping a journal of the Bucket List Road Trip.

This Bucket List Road Trip was also inspired by the commercial where the guy takes his dog on a road trip. And so, this road trip is also for Tobias Lorenzo, my fourteen-year-old, seven and a half pound Yorkie. In dog years Toby is now in his 70’s, older then me! The first part of June I had a scare with him. He became very lethargic and didn’t bark for about 36 hours. That is highly unusual! He was still eating and pooping normally. I thought maybe he had had a small stroke or something, so I gave him a half of a baby aspirin and made an appointment to see the vet. By the time we went to see the vet he was back to his normal self. She agreed that a stroke was a possibility. Along with his shots and heart worm test, I had some blood work done. The vet called while my youngest son and his family were visiting. The tests were all fine except for the kidney part. The vet said Toby may be in the beginning stage of kidney failure. I was to bring him in for a urine sample when I get back. She also said it could be just a false positive, we will see. He is already on a special diet for irritable bowel syndrome. So, this road trip really could be Toby’s bucket list trip. But, I will deal with that later!

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Ceci took this photo of Toby on our way to my oldest son’s in the Kansas City area to see Toby’s first girlfriend, Lucy! A white fluff mop of a Bichon Frise / Shih Tsu mix around the same age as Toby. Lucy is now blind and partly deaf, but still very spry. Lucy lives with Mia, a very large golden lab and Gunner, a golden retriever, along with three cats, Sterling, Boomer & Rocky, and of course my son, daughter-in-law and two college-age grandsons. My granddaughter was greeted by the dogs when we arrived.

IMG_0624 Ceci fell in love with IMG_0631Sterling. However, she has a slight allergy to cats and had to remember to wash her hands after she petted and played with him.

Her uncle turned on the movie Charlotte’s Web for her while we were waiting for everyone to get home. It was really quite fun to see my college age grandsons watching the movie with her. One grandson lives at home and the other has his own apartment in Lawrence, they are both in college.

On Saturday my son fixed an awesome breakfast of eggs, bacon & hash browns, while my daughter-in-law baked a french-toast berry casserole! Everything was delicious! The oldest son had not been home in a while, so it was a special weekend. That night we all went out to a fun Italian restaurant, Cupini’s, where you order your dinner at the counter and then it is delivered to your table. My lasagne was delicious. Ceci shared a meatball sub with her aunt. We then went to an Irish pub, O’Dowd’s in Westport. Ceci was in her gIMG_0637.JPGlory with her two cousin’s Ian and Connor!

When I lived in North Kansas City thirty years ago I loved Westport. It has an Ann Arbor feel, so it always reminded me of home. Ceci and I left the four to party more that night. But of course, I had to drive through yet another blinding rain storm going back to my son’s. Ceci and I  watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I love this movie!

We only stayed two nights, we needed to leave Sunday afternoon and drive to Sioux Falls SD, which would be half way to Rapid City and Mount Rushmore! We had reservations at Mystery Mountain Resort for July 4th.

 

 


I decided last winter I wanted to see some of those places you always talk about you want to see some day. I want to see the Grand Canyon, I want to see Mount Rushmore, I want to see Italy, I want to see . . . So, this month I went and saw Mount Rushmore with one of my younger granddaughters. I kept a journal of the the trip. I gave my ten-year-old granddaughter a journal to write in as well. I incorporated this bucket list event with a visit to my daughter in Arkansa, a visit to my oldest son in Kansas City area and my daughter-in-law’s father’s 75th Birthday party. I had already spent a week with my younger son’s family at my new place. A summer of seeing all my children, most of my grandchildren and a bucket list place.

I left on Sunday June 26th at around 3:00 hoping to spend the night in Effingham, IN. I had stopped at Meijer to get a camp stove, new bulbs for the lantern, as well as more ice for both coolers. I ended up buying a new lantern because they didn’t have the fluorescent bulbs I needed for my camp lantern. I would be camping for four nights in War Eagle Campground about a half hour from my daughter’s new “Tiny House” in the northwest hills of Arkansas. Finally I was on the road.  The weather was good all the way to Indianapolis, however just past Indianapolis it started to rain. I drove through a half dozen or so squalls where you can hardly see the road and finally had to stop in Terre Haute, IN at a Days Inn. Room 209 was clean, nice bathroom, with a frig, microwave, internet and TV, however the carpet smelled like stale beer! Ugh! But it was pouring rain outside, so I was not about to complain. My bucket list road trip was becoming the Road Trip of Unfortunate Events. Unfortunate Event #1, the rain squalls and then Unfortunate Event #2, the smelly room. Okay, rain isn’t that bad— we have no control over nature—so what else could happen?

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Now, for the first time I was using the map directions on my iPhone sitting in a special stand. My youngest son had suggested getting a stand for my phone to put in the car, so I would have handsfree directions. I’m more of a map person. I do not like the direction map interface in my Ford C-Max. I absolutely detest the ‘voice’ telling me when and where to turn twenty-five times before you actually need to turn. With my phone I can watch the arrow and read the turning instructions as they pop up. I’m a visual person. The stand I got at Meijer with the other camping stuff. So, I put the name of the campground, town, and zip code as the destination and followed the directions to War Eagle Campground. Unbeknownst to me everything in this area of Arkansas is named War Eagle. I ended up in the town of War Eagle,  where there is War Eagle Bridge and War Eagle Gris Mill. Ugh! It took me two hours, after two phone calls to the campground, with a women telling me to “go through Knob Hill and just bare to the left,” Really! I thought to myself. How long do I bare to the left, I wondered. I also called my daughter, to help me FIND the campground! When I finally got there at about 6:00, two hours later, my daughter arrived shortly after. Unfortunate event #3!

My daughter helped me set up my new tent, which I had already put up and down once, and watched my new queen bed inflate with the switch of a knob, once it was plugged in! She had brought a grilled chicken and avocado. I had all the salad stuff, so once the camp was set up we ate a glorious grilled chicken avocado salad, had a glass/cup of wine and everything seemed to be going very well. However, a very dark cloud showed up and it began to sprinkle, so we quickly put everything away. The reason I had picked site 26 was because it was across from the bathroom and supposedly had a view of the lake. Now, the view of the lake was down a 50 foot tree-lined embankment that was not walkable. Yes, it was on top of a very steep hill. The bathroom was a concrete structure with two pit toilets each for men and women, with a pump for water on the farthest end outside. A little primitive, but I like camping so I was not too upset. The toilets were clean and I was the only one camping on the hill. I was actually only one of three people camping in the whole campground!

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As my daughter was driving away around 8:00, it began to pour! She texted my sons and sister this photo. I was in the tent with Toby, my radio, and iPad thinking I would just read for a while and go to sleep. Think again! Within a few minutes of my daughter driving away the wind began to blow and the stakes for the tent porch pulled out and blew the screened porch right into the door of the main tent! I reached out and grabbed the screen and hung on for dear life, with rain pelting me in the face, for about fifteen minutes. YES, I thought I was going to be blown off that hill any minute! You guessed it, Unfortunate Event #4. I was beginning to think my Bucket List Road Trip had been cursed! It rained, it poured until 9:30 or so. The good thing was that once it quit blowing, I set the camp chairs in the corners of the screen porch to help keep the rain from coming in the main tent. The rain shield was still holding fine and the inside of the tent was DRY!  I was dripping wet, so I changed into dry clothes, deciding I better stay dressed. This was the second night in a row I had slept in my clothes because of pouring rain. Ugh! It was thundering and lightning and raining so loud I could barely hear my radio turned up as loud as it could go. I did eventually go to sleep and woke up to a dry, sun shining morning.

My daughter and granddaughter arrived for breakfast around 7:30. I had coffee made,  had strawberries, blueberries, yogurt, and bagels with cream cheese all ready. Ceci was going to camp with me while I was in Arkansa and then go on to Mount Rushmore as my little co-pilot. Things were going to be just fine. We had a great breakfast with many laughs about the night before and the pit toilets. Now, I chose to stay here instead of at my daughter’s new Tiny House because of the flush toilets and showers. The online campground site said there were flush toilets and showers, but I didn’t know where. So, after my daughter left for work with the plan to meet in Rogers at 3:00, Ceci, Toby and I took a walk-a-bout of the campground in search of the showers. It really is a beautiful campground with a marina, beach area, and lots of pull-through sites for RVs. However, we ended up knocking on the door of the camp manager’s trailer at about 9:00 to find out where the showers were. She was not happy, but said “Up the hill there!”  and pointed in the general direction of a road going up a small hill. What is it with Arkansan’s that they can’t give specific directions?

Woohoo! Shower and flush toilet. Yes, ONE for women and ONE for men for the whole campground. There was also one handicap shower for each as well. So, I was thrilled, I could take a nice hot shower! I got all my stuff together, while Ceci and Toby were going to wait in the car. In the shower stall I hung my dopp kit up on the hook and went to test the shower. I reached in and turned on the shower, well I had to push a button and when I did I got it right in the FACE! What the heck! The shower head was one that could not be moved to change the direction. Ugh! I was all WET once again! I screamed and Ceci came to see what was wrong. I said I was OK, just wet, she laughed. You got it! Unfortunate EIMG_0618.JPGvent #6! When I finally got in the shower I had to keep hitting the button to keep the shower going. OK, OK it was still a somewhat hot shower. Showered, dressed, and after air drying my hair, thank goodness it is fine, thin and dries quickly. I went to put my glasses on and realized I had zipped them into the dopp kit. Ceci unzipped and pulled out the glasses missing a lens. NOOOO! She quickly found it and I was able to pop it back into the frame. Thank goodness! We averted unfortunate event #7 and hopefully ended the curse. Yea! Back at camp I curled the ends of my hair, sprayed my bangs, put the little make-up I use these days and was ready to go do some further exploring of Hobbs State Park and the Conservation Center. We went to War Eagle Bridge and Gris Mill. This is a ONE lane bridge built in 1908, a little freaky to go over. I’d already done this once the night before.

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It was 11:30 when we explored the mill, it still grinds flour for to sell. They have a gift shop (of course) and the Bean Palace on the third floor, so we had lunch. Ceci had a Hot Dog (of course) and I ordered the Beans & Cornbread special. It was very good. Then we drove to the Hobbs State Park Conservation Center, saw a documentary on Arkansa plants, animals, and the park. It’s a beautiful facility. I bought some raw Arkansa honey for both Ceci and I. We drove route 12 to Rogers and met Michelle at Susan’s Ice Cream place then followed her to their new Tiny House. DSC_0019.jpg

They’ve only been in the Tiny house since the end of May, so it is still a work in process. It is set on a beautiful wooded hill, just a LOT of work. We had a great meal with home grown zucchini, summer squash and green beans to go with the chicken casserole that my son-in-law had cooked. Ceci showed me her little fort in the woods that she and her friend created. She told me the name but I can’t remember.

The next day Ceci, Toby & I met my daughter at War Eagle Bridge around 2:00 anDSC_0017d headed to the War Eagle Cavern. We had a great tour of the cavern then fixed dinner at my campsite and a camping slumber party in the tent. And yes, it rained again—that seems to be a fact of life for this trip—but we were dry and “snug as a bug in a rug”!

The next day we packed up my camp and Ceci & I headed to Kansas City for two days with my oldest son and his family then we will head to South Dakota and the Mount Rushmore chapter of the Bucket List Road Trip!

Milage at this point was 1115 miles.

 

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