Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa

Windows 8 - %@*$& - Arghhhh!
I look forward to the day when I can say “I just love my new computer!” In the meantime, it is a struggle. Seems that everything is so different. My apologies that there won't be any photos in this blog posting – haven't learned much about photos yet.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula – trees, trees and more trees!
This is a beautiful place – lots of trees along the southerly route I took to go from the high and long toll bridge to get from lower and upper Michigan. The highway goes through many small to tiny towns. I chose a campground sort of in the middle of the peninsula – and across from the entrance to the 95,000 acre Seney National Wildlife Refuge. It was established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt The diverse habitats, including provide a home to a wide variety of plant and wildlife species. And I got to see many of them during the three-hour driving tour.

Wisconsin – finally back in agricultural country
Dairy farms and feed crops provided a different kind of beauty. I enjoyed sunsets and sunrises and miles of mowed grasses. I found two nice RV campgrounds, staying in one of them for three nights to enjoy the family of Bald Eagles that nested nearby. My campsite backed up to the Chetek River – peaceful and beautiful.

Minnesota – back with friends and family
First stop was Annandale, Minnesota, for a few days with Elizabeth and Mike, friends I met while volunteering at McDowell Mountain Park outside Phoenix. Besides some good visiting and walking time, Elizabeth signed me up to help with the town's 28th annual triathlon; I was posted at a busy intersection where I was to keep the spectators from encroaching on the bicycle course. Jeremiah parked easily in the driveway of their home, a few blocks from downtown and a stone's throw from Pleasant Lake. Elizabeth and I, and another friend of hers, spent an early evening lazily kayaking in the lake. On my last evening there, I enjoyed a band concert that the Annandale Community Band – Elizabeth plays the flute – performed for a nearby senior center.

Medford, Minnesota, on a farm
The same farm my mother visited when she was a child. I parked Jeremiah under huge trees with views of corn fields, sounds coming from cows, pigs and several dogs, and had sweet visiting time with my mom's cousin Gloria. I also played my 'every-other-year' game of progressive rummy with family members.

And the weather turned cold! Nights were in the high 40s and days were chilly, too, Good weather to stay inside – besides the mosquitoes were abundant – to work on a very difficult jigsaw puzzle (had less than half down when I left), read and work crossword puzzles. I braved the mosquitoes long enough to pull some rhubarb that I cooked down to make a delicious sauce.

Iowa – that's where the tall corn grows!
And the state of my birth 75 years ago. Jeremiah is parked at Pinicon Ridge Campground where Sharon and Jim, also friends from my McDowell Mountain Park days, are volunteer hosts here in summers. Campsites are large and parking areas are graveled and level. The Wapsipinicon River flows through the park and now has a lovely bridge that gets campers from one side to the other. Yesterday I spent the afternoon with Sharon and a group of ladies who make small blankets that they give away. It was quite a production! This evening it is a fish fry for friends from their school years.

Westward Ho tomorrow – Wednesday, July 31
My destination will be the Kansas City area to visit my cousins. Then after backtracking a little bit, I'm hoping to visit friends (also from McDowell Park) on the Missouri side of Kansas City. Stops after that will take me north into Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota before heading west again.

Your thought for this posting is an Italian proverb:

After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bringing you up to date with Carol

This will be just a quick blog entry to bring you up to date.

Friends bring joy to my life
The month of May mostly consisted of travel and camping in all sorts of RV parks. In contrast, the month of June was mostly visits with friends I made while living in southern California. And so far this month, July, it has been more friend visits. What a pleasure to spend time with such a variety of interesting people.

New Hope, Pennsylvania
When I last posted to the blog, I had just left friends in Maryland and was on my way to visit Jill and Doug in New Hope (eastern Pennsylvania). I’ve known Jill since 1979 when I hired her to run a portion of my tennis-related business. Young and eager, she quickly learned business and marketing skills, taking a huge load off me.

During my days there, we had lots to talk about – memories, families, employees, tennis, and life in general. It was a busy, but restful two-plus days. The biggest surprise was breakfast at Fred’s Breakfast, a “members-only” café alongside the Delaware River. (www.fredsbreakfast.com” an interesting concept!)   One of the café “rules” states that if you are grumpy, stay home.

Middleburg, Connecticut
My next stop was a visit with Maggie and Jim and their sweet coon dog, Magoo. I met Maggie during my country-western dancing days in north San Diego County. They live in an old gorgeous, old and well-restored home in this fairly rural area. Following Happy Hours on the huge veranda, Jim worked magic with the grill and Maggie added her culinary touches for dinners in the main dining room.

She and I spent a super day touring the historic Rockefeller Mansion in nearby Sleepy Hollow, New York. It's a beautiful place. Here are a couple pictures I took.

Quite an imposing place

Gardens at Rockefeller Estate
Change in travel plans
I promised myself that if I stopped enjoying my travels, I would make changes. I definitely did not enjoy the New York traffic; Connecticut was border line. With the heavy traffic and narrow roads, I had to really concentrate on driving – no time to look around and enjoy the drive. So, I decided to head west, omitting Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. I chose to head back toward west.

Western Pennsylvania
Breathing a sigh of relief and enjoying the drive again, I drove to Jamestown, Pennsylvania, near the state’s western border, to visit with Essie and Richard. I met them when I was a volunteer at Cave Creek Regional Park in the Phoenix area. While there we attended a farm auction, a plant and produce auction, and an Amish auction. We also enjoyed an Independence Day band concert, neighborhood picnic, and a “USO-type” music program. Here are some pictures of various outings. 

Produce auction

"Chef" Richard cooked dinner - delicious!

Outhouse? No, a clever storage shed.

At farm auction - "snow plow"
Somerset, Ohio
A visit with Jim and Gwen Young in Somerset, Ohio was my most recent stop. I met them when we were volunteers at Pancho Villa State Park. Jeremiah Junior parked just fine near the barns and outbuildings on their Century Farm. It is a working dairy farm with two large dogs and many cats! It was two quick days of visiting and a trip to the nearby Dawes Arboretum. I purposely made a stop at the local grocery store to get my favorite garlic bologna!

I’m currently in Michigan and Computer woes continue
My loaner computer (with Windows 7) started acting up – I won’t go into details – so when I left Jamestown, I stopped at a Best Buy in Warren, Ohio, and bought a Samsung computer with Windows 8. And today, I bought “Windows for Seniors” from the Dummies Series! I have a lot to learn – and have not been able to activate my newly purchased Internet security program! Grrr! I think a stop at a Best Buy for some help is a good idea. Stay tuned - I will prevail!

What’s next on my Big Trip?
Today (July 14) I’ll drive up into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, into Wisconsin and then into Minnesota. From Minnesota, it will be Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, northwestern New Mexico (a visit to Navajo Lake State Park), Albuquerque area, and then back into Arizona. Time-wise, I’m about halfway through with the trip. So far I’ve driven nearly 6,000 miles.

The RVing life is certainly not humdrum and boring! Here's a quote from Pastor Chuck Swindoll:

I cannot imagine anything more boring and less desirable than being poured into the mold of predictability as I grow older. Few things interest me less than the routine, the norm, the expected, the status quo. Call it the rebel in me, but I simply cannot bear plain vanilla when life offers so many other colorful and stimulating flavors. A fresh run at life by an untried route will get my vote every time---in spite of the risk.