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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another week down - Five to go

This past week was the same as all the others, we had no tours at work, we came home walked when we could, that is when it wasn't raining. We have had so much rain the lakes and rivers are out of their banks and making life miserable for a lot of people. In fact the rain prevented us from going to visit my mother in Centerville, she called and said they had closed roads so we decided to delay or visit by a week. Lake Rathbun has doubled in size and has flooded a lot of the area. So we will go visit next week.

Since we didn't go to Centerville we decided to get some things done around here. We had to go to the bank because on the form I had them fill out to have my pension direct deposited they put the wrong routing number on the form. As we were getting ready to go we received a call from Carl & Merilee, they wanted to come over. Actually, as Carl put it they were going out to breakfast or come see us. They came over to see us.

We had an hour so we went to the bank and Menard's before they got here. I am looking into buying a ladder, one that makes into a step ladder and an extension ladder, I have a space of four feet I can store one in the back of the truck. I didn't find what I wanted at Menard's so I will look at Lowe's and Home Depot this week.

Carl & Merilee arrived a little after eleven, they had not seen our camper yet so we showed them around, took about three minutes. Since everyone was hungry we went out to eat, we had been there once before, it was good food and service. It was a bit noisy but we enjoyed ourselves. After lunch we stopped at Shorewood RV in Ankeny to look at the motorhomes they had on the lot. There was a Tiffin 40' motorhome that I thought was great, nice floor plan, interior and paint job on the outside. We had to get gas so I stopped at Hy-Vee to get my three cent discount, I had to buy a paper to get the discount, the paper cost fifty cents and my discount was forty three cents. I guess I didn't need to buy the paper. Then we went to the local DQ and had a blizzard, it wss great. It didn't do my diet any good but it seems most of what I am eating lately isn't good for my diet.

We returned home and Cynthia, Sarah's sister, came out to see Carl & Merilee. It was nice to see her and she stayed for an hour or so.

After Cynthia left, she was going dancing, we decided it was time to eat again. Sarah had been told about a Mexican restaurant in Altoona so we thought we would give it a try. It wasn't to bad, price was reasonable and the service quick.

After Carl & Merilee left we joined some neighbors at there camper and visited and did a bit of drinking. About nine the mosquitoes were beging to bite and half the group went inside their campers. We went over to Dick and Judy's and continued our visit and did a bit more drinking. We called in a night sometime after ten.

This morning we got up and went to church, the grocery store and home. While Sarah did the laundry I put a ham, onions, green beans and potatoes in the crockpot and read the paper. About three I decided to exercise the truck. I started it and decided to put fuel in it, I haven't fueled it since we got back from Mt. Pleasant. Sarah went with me so we drove the truck a bit. I was very pleased by the 9.44 mpg we got. That is an mpg or two lower than we got with the F350 but we are pulling a heavier trailer now.

Anyway the rest of today was spent reading, watching NCIS, and taking a walk.

The weather today was absolutely beautiful, blue sky, very little wind and mid eighties. The perfect day.

Dreams Do Come True.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seeing good friends and Trip to Illinois

Last week was nothing to write about until we got to the weekend, work was the same, our evenings were the same,except for Wednesday, we met long time friends Norma & Orren at "On The Border" Mexican restaurant. It is always a good time when we get together with them. A couple of nights we sat outside with the neighbors, I always knew and it has been verified many times in the four months we have been full timing that the other full timers are a great source of information about the little intricacies of full time RVing. My problem is I won’t remember all of it but when I get into a situation it may trigger a piece of information someone told me and I’ll be able to use it to solve the situation at hand. I probably need to write it down; I guess I will have to remember to do that.

Last Friday evening on my drive home from work, Sarah got off early and a fellow employee gave her a ride home, I received a phone call from Tom & Patsy Kelly, long time friends of ours from the Trailways days in Burlington. They were on the road with their son Brett and family, he was pulling his camper, and Brett’s truck developed some engine problem. They needed a place to camp for the night so they get the truck fixed Saturday morning, so they called us to see where we were camped and if they had any room. I stopped by the campground office and got them a spot, I figured there would be room, Sarah and I walk the campground as much as possible.

Well if truth be told, we walk it as much as she can get me out there; she has walked by herself at times. Anyway, Tom and family arrived about six thirty; it was great to see them. We have only seen them a few times in the past thirty or so years, we have kept in touch but that isn’t the same as sitting down and visiting. We went to Applebee’s for dinner and caught up on all the news. We didn’t solve any of the world’s problems but we had a good time reminiscing. Tom brought up names I had not heard or thought of in years, most of them I have no idea where they are today, names like Swank, Mellinger, Curley, Wood, the guys we used to drive with at Trailways, Dave Frantz may have an idea where a couple of the are now. Saturday morning Tom and Brett got the truck fixed and it was time for them to hit the road, their destination was Austin, MN. We said our good byes and watched them take off.
Then it was time for Sarah and I to get ourselves packed and ready to go to Rock Island, IL to Jumer’s Casino. We went there to meet up with a couple of guys I worked with at Ruan; we try to get together a couple of times each year. Tom & Cathy came over from New Lenox, IL and Chris & Amy live in Rock Island. George & Barb, from Muscatine, were out of town Saturday so they were not able to join us. Sarah and I called Carl & Merilee to see if they wanted to have lunch, they live in North Liberty, so it was on our way.

We met them at Texas Roadhouse and had a good meal and a great visit. After lunch we headed for Rock Island and arrived about three. I went to check in and saw Tom & Cathy, they had just arrived also. The desk clerk could not find my reservation luckily I had the confirmation number on my calendar in my IPhone. The hotel had spelled my last name wrong, Oenig, they forgot the H. The clerk would have never found it and I would have been charged for the room, although I am sure it would have been taken care of for me. We parked the car and went to our room; the room was a king and very nice. The rooms are good size and the baths are quite large. I didn’t like the bed much because it was too soft but I slept well so maybe I shouldn’t complain.

We met back down in the lobby and proceeded to go to the casino. I have gotten into the habit of getting the player’s card, or whatever they call it, at each casino we visit – I plan on collecting them but also sometimes they have some nice perks that go with the cards.

We sat in the video poker bar area to wait for Chris & Amy. Chris is working in Chattanooga, TN and gets home every other weekend, so we appreciate him & Amy joining us for the evening. We visited for a while when they arrived and them went to dinner at O’Melia’s, I believe that is how it is spelled. Amy wasn’t sure we would like the restaurant, it is locally owned and somewhat dated in the décor, but we all loved it. For me it brought back memories of the Arion restaurant in Burlington, it wasn’t quite as big as the Arion but the food was very good. We sat in the bar area which I liked a lot, we had great service and Amy said I would like the Old Fashions the bar tender made, she was right. I had a brandy old fashion; it rivaled the ones I use to get in WI, not a big but just as good. Then I tried one made with Southern Comfort, it was excellent. For dinner I had prime rib with true horseradish not the creamy.

I opted for the large cut and let me tell you it was large. The cut I had was about six inches long, two to three inches wide and every bit of two inches thick, the flavor was excellent. Needless to say I was full when we left.

It was now time to get down to the serious business of losing money and helping the state of Illinois with my donations in the casino. I played some one cent slots, the trouble here is you have to play twenty-five to fifty cents a spin to win anything substantial so you end up going through as much or more money than if you played the more expensive slots. Eventually I went to the video poker and video blackjack machines, I enjoy playing them but I wonder if I would be better off playing with humans. All in all we had a good time and ended the evening watching a young man at the roulette wheel lose over a thousand dollars. He would play almost every number with at least one chip and then put additional chips on certain numbers, not sure what his strategy was but I guessed he could afford to lose the money, he had a couple of young ladies tagging along with him.

It is interesting to watch the people who are in the casinos, almost all of them have the player’s cards but the amount of money you have to play to get any of the perks is unbelievable. I wonder if they tune out how much money they have lost, I can’t believe very many have made money playing the slots. This casino is totally smoke free and I did like that but I don’t believe I would go there anymore than we go to Prairie Meadows here in Des Moines.

Sunday morning we met in the café for breakfast. I ordered blueberry pancakes, I love blueberry pancakes, these were very good and the portion was huge. I got three pancakes within a half inch the diameter of the dinner plate they were on, I also got sausage links. The links were the good kind with the casing on them that makes you cut them with a knife. It was a very good breakfast.
Tom got hold of George and they were going to be home so we checked out and headed their way. Chris & Amy didn’t go because of the number of things they needed to get done during his time home. So with hugs and kisses we said our goodbyes and headed to Muscatine. I plugged the address into the GPS and it took us right to their place.

George & Barb have bought a home on a hill that overlooks the Mississippi river, I love it. They have done some extensive remodeling especially in the basement. Barb’s mother lives with them so they made the basement into her apartment with a separate entrance. It is absolutely fabulous; she has a kitchen, two bedrooms, two baths, washer & dryer etc. The main floor goes out to a screened in deck/porch, which goes out to an area with the grill and hot tub, there are stairs that go down to a very large deck for entertaining. The home is beautiful, very unpretentious from the street side but well decorated on the inside. We had a fabulous visit with them but all good things must come to an end and it was time to get on the road. So with hugs and kisses we headed for home.

Dreams Do Come True

Monday, July 12, 2010

Two for One

Another Busy Weekend - July 12, 2010

This weekend was one Sarah and I have looked forward to for the last few weeks. Steve, Lynne, Zack, Allison and Nick were in town Thursday, Lynne’s folks had the kids and so they were in town to get them. When Steve heard the boys were going to be there he decided to stay another night. Robert, Sarah, Mason and Madyson made the long trip from WI, they arrived Friday night. Daniel, Marie, Emily and Isabel came over Saturday morning from Omaha. They both stayed at the Ramada on Merle Hay road, there is a water park located inside the facility. I was told by the front desk it is a multi-million dollar renovation and I must say they did a nice job of it. The boys both had the king size rooms with a couch and small refrigerator, plenty of room for all of them. Thursday night we were going to Incredible Pizza for dinner but after we got there it was decided the place was too noisy, so we went to Happy Joe’s. Big mistake on our part. Steve ordered two pizzas and soda and I ordered a pizza and sodas, we never did get the pizza, but I did get a refund and we went on our merry way.

We all went to Adventureland Park Saturday morning; Robert headed out to the park bout nine thirty and took his mom with him to help with directions. I waited at the hotel for Daniel, he arrived a bit after ten and he followed me out to the park. We all met up at the Ferris wheel and had a great time all day. My favorite ride at any park is the train, now the train at Adventureland is not that great but I like riding it anyway. The kids rode the airplanes, boats, big trucks and several other rides. Robert and Daniel wanted to ride the Tornado which is the only original roller coaster left in the park; they didn’t get to do it because they didn’t want to wait in line that long. One of the roller coasters was being repaired so it made the lines at other rides longer. In fact as near as I could tell all the rides I say had a waiting line that long, I wasn’t interested in them so it didn’t matter to me. I give the little ones a lot of credit; they were troopers and didn’t slow down a bit. Marie’s big want for the day was to have a corn dog. We found the corn dog stand and she got a foot long one and ate all of it, they were very good. Marie is seven months pregnant so she will miss the State Fair and the corn dogs there so we are very happy the doctor let her travel this weekend.

The kids wanted to “fish” at this one stand so I helped Isabel and we finally hooked a fish after several misses. The prizes being a stuffed frog, well because of the fishing expertise of her granddad she hooked the fish for the large frog. She carried that frog with her the rest of the day. The last ride we took before leaving was the chair lift or some such name as that; it goes from one end of the park to the other. Mason and I rode together and he was telling me about the shoes on the roof of a building, I know he has never ridden this ride before but he was right there was a shoe on a roof. He must have seen the same thing at another park.

We left the park about three and all four kids fell asleep on the ride back to the hotel. In fact Daniel spent an extra twenty minutes driving around town to give the girls some extra sleep time. We got Daniel checked into the hotel and then we went to eat. We went to El Rodeo a very good Mexican restaurant, I don’t know what Daniel ordered but there was enough on the plate for two. All in all it is a good place to eat if you like Mexican food.

After dinner it was time to go back to the hotel so the kids could get into the water park. Sarah even got in with the kids and really enjoyed it. I am not a water/swimmer person so I don’t get in the pool, I will get in the hot tub if it is not crowded. I was in a hot tub one time where there were way too many people in it; I didn’t stay in very long. The kids really had a blast. This water park does not have deep water except where the big slide ends; most of the water is only a foot deep. You still have to watch the little ones but they all had a great time.

Sunday dawned cloudy and a forecast of rain off and on all day. We got up and went to church and I called the office to see if the clubhouse was reserved, it wasn’t, we took it and it was the best decision I have made in a long time. Even if the weather had been forecasted to be nice all day the clubhouse is still the way to go. Robert and Sarah were the first ones to arrive and Sarah told me she could “camp” in one of these, she said this as she sat on the couch, I have converted her to camping. To clarify she said she could “camp not live” in one. Mason liked the truck; he got into the driver’s seat and was ready to drive. Tiffany, Matt and Alexa came down from Nevada.

We took everything over to the clubhouse; we had bought some burgers, buns and misc items. Tiffany brought brats and hotdogs, Cynthia brought a Cole slaw salad, it is one I really like I think it is Chinese something or other. We also had potato salad, Sterzings potato chips, watermelon and cookies and cupcakes so there was plenty to eat. My little grill is not that big and I ran out of propane for it so that slowed us down a bit. It cooked up six hot dogs, six brats and two burgers at the same time, so it did pretty good.

About two-thirty Daniel and family took off for Omaha, Tiffany, Matt and Allison headed home to Nevada and Robert and family went back to the hotel. It was great fun to watch how quickly the kids got acquainted and played together. Mason was greatly outnumbered being the only boy out of the six grandkids. We were able to get some pictures of all the little ones which was one of the things I wanted to do because I don’t know when we will get them all together like this again.

Sunday afternoon we went to the movie, Sarah and I haven’t been to a movie in a long time, we saw Despicable Me, it was good but I thought it was more of an adult movie than a kid’s movie. I want to rent it and watch it again because I know there were a couple of times I wished I could rewind the film and watch a particular scene of segment over. Overall I enjoyed it and I am glad we went to see it. The kids were pretty good throughout the movie, in fact there were a lot of kids there, and I believe 95% of the theater was sold out.

After the movie we went over to the hotel to visit a bit longer with the Robert and Sarah and about 7:15 we left for home. I have a tendency to get the kids going and then it is difficult to get them to sleep, so we went home. It is also my time to wind down and get mentally prepared for work. I read the paper, watched the last of the NCIS shows of the night and went to bed.

It was a perfect weekend, we couldn’t have asked for better weather; in fact the Good Lord changed Sunday’s forecast to give us a great day. Sarah and I are very thankful we have kids who get along well with each other and those they come in contact with, I pray that will always be and that they continue to stay in each other’s lives.

When we got home the neighbors, John & Kathy, Dick & Judy were sitting out so we grabbed our chairs and joined them. A couple hours of good conversation and it was time to pack it in for the night.

I was in bed by 10:15, early for me, but I was tired. This weekend showed that Dreams Do Come True.

July 6th:
Last weekend was great, being the July 4th weekend we decided to take an extended weekend. Dave and Shari Frantz are camp hosts for Crossroads RV Park, http://www.xrdsrv.com/, in Mt Pleasant, IA so with our destination set we began our weekend.

My company offices closed at 1 pm on Friday and Sarah wasn’t able to get off until 3:30 so we decided I should drive the truck to work and fuel it on my way home and Sarah would drive her car to work as usual. Our original plan had me breaking down the camper and headed to Mt. Pleasant as soon as I was ready and Sarah would follow when she got off work. As it turned out she forgot her cell phone so I said I would wait for her to get home.

I got started on the camper after I got home and took my time, it was hot outside and I wasn’t in any big hurry anyway. Sarah had packed most of the small breakable things, she has sitting out, the night before. I turned the recliners, got everything off the floor etc and had the slides in and most of the outside work done when she got home. That left hooking up the camper to the truck and unplugging it from the electric. We have an air ride hitch and it needs to be aired up, it has a tendency to drain off the air when it sits awhile. We were hooked up and ready to go by 4:30 and we headed out.

This was our maiden voyage with the camper and truck, other than pulling the camper over from the dealer to our camp site, so I was anxious and apprehensive at the same time as to how everything would go. I have to say the truck performed flawlessly and the camper pulled very nicely. With the F350 I was told to take the truck out of overdrive when starting from a stop with the camper hooked on and then putting the truck into overdrive after we reached 50 mph. I did that the entire time we had the two units. With the f550 it has a Tow/Haul mode so on this trip I would begin in that mode and then take it out of tow/haul once we reached 50 mph. The truck ran great pulling the hills none of them were over a 2-3% grade so it wasn’t much of a test for it, but I was still happy with the way the trip went.

We pulled into Crossroads RV Park about 7 pm and set up the camper except for the interior we did that later in the evening. Dave and Shari were there to great us along with their granddog Moe. After we did our set up we went out to eat, I don’t remember the name of the place but the Philly sandwich and homemade fries were great.

Saturday Sarah was up early and wanted to go for a walk. Now Dave had told me that three times around the exterior of the park was a mile, he says he walks fifteen times around for five miles, I didn’t attempt that, but I did three. Anyway, we get out and go around one time and I said to Sarah we should see if Moe wants to go for a walk. So we knocked on the door and sure enough Moe was more than willing to join us, of course you have to clean up after them, so I walked Moe and Sarah batted cleanup. Moe is a female dog who lifts her leg to go, something I had never seen before but it was natural for her. Moe went around the park with us twice but when we got to her camper after the second time she made a beeline for her camper, she was through walking. It was fun and we become good buddies after that. She did have a habit of coming up and licking my left ankle, I don’t know what that was all about but I have a clean left ankle now.

Sarah and I left the campground around nine to go visit the cemeteries of her folk, my dad, sister, grandmother and my daughter. We also took the opportunity of going by the farm where Sarah grew up and the old bar place where we would go camping with the kids and others. We saw the first barge, in a long time, making its way downriver while we waited on the bridge at Ft Madison. The bridge crossing the Mississippi at Ft Madison is a swing bridge for cars and trains, a swing bridge has a section that swings open on a pivot to allow the barges to pass.

We went by our old house in West Burlington and took pictures of the tree we had planted in the mid eighties. This tree was nothing more than a twig with roots on it when we planted it and now it is 25-30 feet tall and bushy, it is a very nice looking tree.

We were back at the campground by three and got ready to have our cookout with my brother Larry, his wife Kathy, their kids Brad, Andy and Jill and their kids, I’d name them all but I am afraid I would miss one and get into trouble. Also Larry brought our Aunts Millie and Marcella to the gathering; I think they enjoyed themselves it was great seeing them. Dave and Shari also joined us; we had us adults and seven kids. Dave performed his magical touch on the grill and prepared burgers, hotdogs and brats, they were great. Dave has also mastered the art of Dutch Oven cooking, makes a great brisket with cobbler for desert. It was a great time, we enjoyed seeing the kids it had been a while since we last saw them.

Sunday was a day of not doing much we stayed around the campground, it rained some, I did some reading and computer stuff. Sarah and Shari went to the store and bought some nice steaks and again Dave worked his magic on the grill in cooking the steaks. What more could a person ask for than a good wine, great steak and terrific conversation, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Monday was cloudy and rained a bit first thing in the morning so we didn’t do any walking. Sarah did some laundry so it would be done when we got back to Des Moines. For lunch we went to a little restaurant, Butch’s River Rock Café in Oakland Mills, IA,
located south of Mt Pleasant on the Skunk river. The place held maybe forty people but the food was very reasonable and delicious. Their menus are also for the younguns’ to color the name of the restaurant on the front of the menu. I got to color; I haven’t done anything like this for years. I do remember coloring with the kids once in a while, but I didn’t do it very often. So I took up the challenge and colored the entire name for them, I even signed with my initials. Not that anyone will know who did the fabulous coloring but it was fun and I enjoyed it. Everyone said that while I was coloring I didn’t talk; Sarah went to Wal-Mart and bought coloring books and crayons that night.

After lunch we drove over to Mark and Beth Steingreber’s house. We had finished a bottle of Honig wine, it is grown in Napa Valley and I had a bottle of it. Shari said we should drill a hole in it and put a string of Christmas lights in it for a decoration in the camper. So that is the reason for our trip to Mark and Beth’s because Mark has a drill press and a bit to drill holes in glass. We accomplished that task with Mark drilling and Dave keeping water on the project so it wouldn’t heat up, me I did my utmost best as an observer. Of course everyone then thought I should get a drill press and begin making these bottles with lights in them. I don’t think so; I will stick with my other hobby of reading. Sarah was happy with it and I did manage to get the lights in the bottle and it does look nice.
We headed back to the campground as soon as we were finished with drilling the hole in the bottle we left because we were cooking out again. Mark and Beth were coming out as well as Larry and Kathy. Master chef Dave did a superb job of grilling burgers and brats again. I failed to mention earlier the baked beans Dave cooked up on the grill. Like I said he is a Master Chef.

We sat around and visited and had a great time, in fact the time went by to fast, before long it was time to say good night. It was a fun day and I was tired. It was good to see Mark and Beth again, Mark and a couple of his friends were the ones who checked out the truck I wanted to buy when they were in Mission TX. On their recommendation I bought the truck and have not regretted it for a minute. Again thank you Mark and guys.

Tuesday came all too quickly but life must go on so I got up. After breakfast we began to break camp. Sarah wrapped the items she didn’t want to ride unprotected and I worked on the outside duties. Dave was working in the office until eleven but we were going out for lunch when he got off. We had the unit hooked up and ready to roll when he got off and so we all hopped into the car and went up town to eat. Another good, reasonably priced meal, that is what I like about small towns, the local eateries are much better than chain stores.

When we returned to the campground it was time to fire up the truck and head back to Des Moines. We had a great time visiting with friends and relatives. A big thanks to Dave, Shari and Moe for the good times we had with them.

Our trip back to Des Moines was uneventful. However, after parking the camper I was walking around the outside of it to make sure I wouldn’t hit anything as the slides were opening and then I saw it. The two main slides were out about two inches, wait a minute; they weren’t like that when we left Mt Pleasant. I sent Excel an email about it and Jack, the service manager, said they had seen this before on new units. He said there could be air in the line and would take care of itself the more the slides are moved. So we will take that approach and go forward. It took about an hour to get everything back in order, we did not go to fast, I couldn’t see any point in that besides it was hot and I needed to cool down. We spent the rest of the evening chillin out in the camper.

We didn’t get to see the kids or grandkids but it was a great weekend anyway.

Dreams Do Come True.

Someday I am going to learn how to add pictures.