Friday, July 14, 2017

Ohio and Home

We stayed east of Dayton, Ohio at Tomorrow's Stars RV camp.  It was one of the nicest sites we had the whole trip.  It was wide with a big oak tree, had a campfire ring and a nice big pool.  We had a campfire and cooked hot dogs and s'mores.  Dan and Mitch wanted to go swimming, but since they had three inches of rain the day before, the pool was really cold.  We awoke to thunder and lightening storms.  After unhooking and getting into the truck, we headed down the road in the rain.  It was exciting to be going home and crossing into Pennsylvania felt good.  We were happy to pull in the camper in the yard and see the pups.  Aside from some dog hair, the dogs were glad to see us.  Carl kept the dogs and guinea pig alive and well.    

We had a great trip and were blessed to see so many of the things our country has to offer.  The USA has such a diverse landscape and history and as we found out, it's huge.  We logged over 7500 miles driven in 33 days - this doesn't include our trip into Alaska.  We are glad we blogged to keep track of them all and to share with anyone who reads this.  

Thank you to all of the comments and interest.  We hope you get a chance to get out for an adventure too.

Getting closer...

A great time around the fire.

One more state to go...
Glad to be back.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

We're not in Kansas anymore and Miss Ori

We traveled out of Colorado to the great state of Kansas.  The welcome center was full of Wizard of Oz merchandise and fun t-shirts.  We had our pictures taken with the cutouts of the WofO crew and stayed in Wakeeney.  Wakeeney is a small village west of Colorado on route 70.  We stayed at a KOA there that served as an overnight place to rest.  It had a pool that cooled us down in the 97 degree heat and a Dairy Queen that helped as well.  We made quick work of packing up the next morning and drove south to Oklahoma.  Of course, one of us had to say "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" (thank you Carolyn).  We made our way through Pawhuska, OK where the Pioneer Woman's mercantile is located.  It was along route 60, which is a route that meanders all over the small towns in that part of the state.  It was packed, so we continued on our route and got settled in Bartlesville, a larger town a few miles away.  Once we got settled and set up the camper, we drove back to Pawhuska.  There are a lot of abandoned buildings in Pawhuska.  It appears as though the Mercantile is a step in renewing the town, as it is built at a site that was once the National Biscuit Company, commonly known as Nabisco.

Pioneer Woman is a television cooking show that Caris and Dan love to watch.  They often write down recipes to try them in our kitchen.  Caris chose this as her spot to see, so we veered a bit off course to make it.  The building has been beautifully renovated and no expense has been spared to make shopping a quality experience.  There is merchandise for all including both cowboys and cowgirls, kitchen gadgets, recipe books, clothing, jewelry and a restaurant and snack bar/coffee area as well.  We decided the line for dinner was too long and went upstairs to get a snack. We stuffed ourselves with decadent a snickerdoodle cookie, chocolate silk cream pie, a blueberry sconce and lemon muffin, and cowboy coffee which is sarsaparilla infused coffee with frothy cream. After shopping some more, we decided when else will get the chance to eat here, so we got in line for dinner.  We thought till we get to eat, we'll be hungry.  We waited in the sweltering heat for 53 minutes.  The servers brought us water as we met the others in line around us.  We met a couple from the area that just came back from Waco, TX to see the silos from the Magnolia farm from Fixer Upper.  They told us lots of stories about their adventures around the country traveling.  He once rode his motorcycle to every one of the 48 states in 7 days.

We finally got to go inside the air-conditioned restaurant and ordered some of Ree's recipes.  Mitch ordered Enchiladas, Caris ordered Big Bad Nachos with Chili, Carolyn ordered Roasted Chicken Quesadillas (chicken tasted like it was roasted on an open pit), and Dan had a wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese.  It was all delicious and surprisingly reasonable.  We could not finish it all, as the portions were large.  Caris said if you go there, don't just come hungry, come starving.  We didn't get out until 8:15 p.m., so made it back to Bartlesville around 8:50.

We left for St. Louis at 7:40 to try to avoid traffic and to meet Carolyn's Uncle Ralph for dinner.  We made good time and got to St. Louis around 2:30.  We are staying at a place along a lake.  It is beautiful, but was 99 degrees when we got here.  We got set up and called Uncle Ralph.  We made our way to his place and visited.  It was so good to see him.  Mitch last saw him when he was 2 years old and Caris never met him.  Dan saw him in 2002 and Carolyn saw him last about 2015.  He told us stories about the family and shared some thoughts about how the times have changed.  He is 95 years old.  We went out to IHOP, one of his favorite places to go, and had dinner together.  It was a very nice visit.  We took some pictures and made our way back.

It was very hot in the camper because we forgot to close two windows in the roof, so we decided to go out to a mall and walk around.  We got to Cabellas and roamed around the store.  We went to the mall it was attached to and thought we were in a horror movie.  There were about 10 people there and we were four of them.  There were many stores closed and some vending machine playing weird music that was something you might hear at a circus.  It as so empty and bizarre.  We took pictures because we couldn't believe it.  Looking it up on-line, we learned that there was so much competition that bit by bit the stores left.  It was built for $250 M in 2003 and just sold for $4.5 M.  It is the St. Louis Outlet Mall and it is super creepy.  If you want to film a scary movie though, this is the place.

Kansas Welcome Center

The Mercantile

A Happy Caris at the Mercantile

Big Bad Nachos with Chili - Caris couldn't finish it


The front above and corner below.  You can see the abandoned building below w/o any windows - maybe another project?

Our campsite in Bartlesville
Visiting with Uncle Ralph

Welcome to Missouri (AKA Miss Ori)
This is a brown bear like we saw in Alaska.  It was in Cabellas so we wanted a pix.

Here's the entrance to our campground.  It is metal art.  We found this all over the area - nice use of art in an unlikely place.

Beautiful sunset along the lake.

Super creepy and mostly abandoned mall in St. Louis.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cogs and Springs

Colorado Springs was our home for a couple of days.  We stayed at the Garden of the Gods RV Park.  It is in a nice location to see some sites.  We slept in on Saturday and decided to go see Pike's Peak. Pike's Peak is a couple of minutes from the campsite and took us through Manitou Springs.  We were impressed with the little town and decided to come back and walk around later.  You can ride up Pike's Peak on a cog railway.  It is like a train except there is a cog system in the middle of the track to assist with the climb.  A regular train can go up a 10% grade, but a cog can go up a 25% grade.  Pike's Peak is named for Zebulon Pike, an explorer who never made it all the way up the mountain because when he got 1/2 way up, he was hip high in snow and had to turn around.  He wrote about it in his journal and it became known as his peak.  

The journey up was pretty steep.  You can see the tree line is straight while we're at a good angle.  We had to stop suddenly once and found out why they don't want us walking around.  We saw quite a few waterfalls and rock formations.  At one point, we saw an area called Inspiration Point.  It is called that because a college professor named Katherine Lee Bates from New England went up to Pike's Peak and afterwords while in Colorado Springs wrote a poem that became the "America the Beautiful".  There is also a road that you can drive your car up, but it is very steep. The peak is 14,115 feet high - our highest to date.  Oxygen was a bit different there.  Some report feeling light headed.  We managed to have our lunch there and get some nice pictures.  We had to be sure to be on the train on-time, otherwise we would become hikers.  On our way down, we picked up three firefighters.  They reported they found a campfire that was left and still burning, but were mostly putting out hotspots from the storm the night before.

We safely made it down the mountain and went into Manitou Springs, as did everyone else.  There wasn't a parking spot to be found.  We decided to come back later and do something else.  We went to Camping World to find a solution for our awning.  There was one in  Fountain, CO.  We got there and they were having a big sale, so we got to see a lot of campers. Caris was drooling over them. The ones she liked were in the $200,000 and $300,000 range, or course.  We went to the store and found awning tape.  We had multiple things on the table as an option to visit next, but decided on going to the garden of the gods, a rock formation very close to our campground.  The rocks were formed in an unusual way and jut up high in the sky.  They truly were beautiful.  We went to the visitor's center which explained how they were formed and told a lot about the area.  We saw a movie about them that was a "time travel" back to show how they were formed geologically.  It was campy, but fun.  

It was getting late, so we decided to go back to the campground to get dinner around and try to fix the awning.  Mitch, Caris and Carolyn worked on the awning while Dan got some burgers on the grill.  We got the awning fixed and used it to eat under for dinner.  It seemed to work well and provided some much needed shade.  Temperatures were running in the 90s most of the day.  

After dinner, Caris, Carolyn and Dan went back to Manitou Springs.  We found a parking place and walked around.  It was fun.  We found a store that sold just rubber ducks, an arcade and the like. One restaurant that looked pretty cool was a fondue restaurant.  We looked at the menu and it looked delicious.  We stopped at the candy shop/ice cream shop and tried some fancy chocolates and got a funnel cake.  It was a nice way to wind down..  We made a stop at the grocery store and made it back.  All in all, it was a great day.

Driving through Manitou Springs

 Garden of the gods

Views from the Cog Railway

 Our Train

 Formerly Used for maintenance, etc.

 A monument to the song America the Beautiful - inspired by Pike's Peak