Monday, September 10, 2018

Family time in Illinois and Indiana with a wedding

After the great time we had with Faye and Dave at Coralville, IA we made our way to Paul Wolf Campground at the Burnidge Forest Preserve in Elgin, IL. We spent a few days visiting Heather, Paul and grandson Aiden. We enjoyed a quick visit of about 3-4 days before heading to Indiana to see Sommer, Todd, Caden and Ryleigh.

 Paul fixed a delicious  meal on the grill our first night there. 

Aiden had a Tootsie Pop for desert

A couple night later we had them out to the campground for dinner and Aiden wanted to spend the night with Grandpa and Me Maw so he brought his pajamas. There Peeka Choo jammies.

He didn't wear them all night with the warm weather at the time. He, of course, had to be a little silly.

Good thing we now have a king bed. He slept with us. He tends to move around a lot. But all worked out fine. I think we all got a decent night sleep. Sorta.

One evening we went to his favorite restaurant called 2 Toots. The restaurant has a train theme which is exactly what Aiden loves. TRAINS....

The food is brought out on a miniature train set that is set up next to each table and runs around the whole restaurant. Aiden was in heaven.

Aiden on the mechanical horse

We had a wonderful time visiting and we had plans to return in a about a week later to babysit Aiden while Mom and Dad attended a friends wedding.

Then it was off to Elkhart, IN to see Sommer, Todd, Caden and Ryleigh. We have 4 August birthdays in the family and every year Sommer has a party with mostly Todd's family. Ryleigh being the youngest in her family she gets a lot of attention from the in laws. Todd's mom, sisters and cousins were there. Mason, his son and his girlfriend McKenna and cousins of Ryleigh's that are close in age.

We missed last years party since we were traveling out east. Since last year, Sommer and Todd put a beautiful above ground pool in, a fenced in yard and a deck part way around the pool. Perfect for a party. The carpenter doing the deck got it done just in time. Everyone had a great time with delicious food and beverage.

Like the great blogger I am I didn't get any photos. I can just say the party was a huge success.

After all the festivities and everyone left, I enjoyed my birthday with a cake. 

Then it was time to head back to Illinois to babysit and see Aiden off to school. Aiden is 5 years old and was starting his first day in Kindergarten and how could we miss that. Aiden was so happy and proud to be able to ride the bus to school.

The sign says Aiden's first day of Kindergarten and some additional dates and info to remember the day

Proud Mom and Dad

Proud Grandpa and Grandma

The bus stop is right across the street on the corner

Dad giving Aiden some encouragement

He's ready

There he goes

And he's off

Since we're staying at their home, Aiden was able to ride the bus home with some new friends. Come to find out a boy in his class lives a bout 4 doors down from them and they didn't know it. They are quickly becoming best friends.

At the end of the week it was time for Mom and Dad to go to the wedding and spend a couple days enjoying some couples time.

Well, like I said, Aiden likes trains so we took the Metra downtown Chicago and took a River taxi ride to Navy Pier. Of course this was the same weekend as the Air and Water Show too. The place was a mad house but we did get to have lunch and see a couple planes fly over. It was a quick trip but so worth it. Aiden really had a good time and knows everything about trains.

Snacks on the train

Kayakers on the river

Tall buildings

Navy Pier

The Ferris Wheel...didn't have time to ride

Selfie in the mirror ball

The planes

The boats

The bridges

We made it back to Union Station just in time to catch the train back home and relaxed. Aiden had no problem going to sleep that night.  We didn't either.

Paul and Heather got back and we had a final meal of Sloppy Joe's from a family recipe of Paul's. I made sure to take a photo of the recipe for future dinners.

Well then it was back to Sommer and Todd's house to spend some time with the older grandkids, Caden and Ryleigh.

I got my smoker out one day and did some ribs. They turned out pretty good. 

We enjoyed our last days at their house with some pool time and taking the grandkids out for dinner.

The weekend after we got back to Sommer's house, Heather, Paul and Aiden came to enjoy the pool too. Aiden has been taking swimming lessons and with his floaties on his arms he was having a ball. 

He is really getting used to the water and not afraid to jump in and go under. Ryleigh was a great older cousin helping Aiden jump in and splash everyone. Unfortunately, Glenda had shingles so she didn't get in the water but still enjoyed watching everyone have fun.

Aiden and his mom getting wet

Finally got a family photo

We only wish we could get all the grandkids together but Jasmyne is in Nevada now and Brooklyne is in Georgia. It will happen some day. So happy to have Facebook and the blog so everyone one can stay in touch.

After the time spent in Illinois and Indiana with family it was time to move a little further west to have one more issue with the motorhome looked at in Bartlett, IL. We started having issues with the indicator displays on the One Place and Power Control Panel where we can look at the tanks capacity, battery, water pump and water heater. Also the Power Control panel gives us info on what power source we are on, amperage being used and voltage coming in. All those displays were going hay wire. We got an appointment at a Winnebago dealer service center and they were able to diagnose the problem right away as an antenna lead wire was touching up against the circuit board and shorting it out. They secured that and tested the unit and all is working so far. Fingers crossed. So many issues with a new motorhome makes you wonder how they put them together.

Forgot to mention, we got one last day in at Sommer and Todd's pool and even Glenda got into the action before we headed west for our appointment.

So now it was time to head a little further west to Oregon. No not the state....the town of Oregon in Illinois. We stopped at Lowden SP to attend our nephews wedding. Logan and Amanda were having their wedding at Camp Kupugani in Leaf River, IL. Logan is my brothers oldest son. Parker, the younger brother was the best man. It's an outdoor venue near where Amanda's family used to camp when she was younger. The Bride and Groom looked wonderful and all our kids were in attendance. Chris and his fiancée, Kendra, came from AZ, Todd and Sommer came over from IN and Paul and Heather came from their home.

The wedding was fun, lighthearted and celebratory. They had the wedding in a open field area and the dinner and reception in a couple of building on the grounds.

Mr. and Mrs. Logan and Amanda Lowry

Kids with spouses and fiancée 

The cousins together...Sommer, Parker, Logan, Chris and Heather

What a cool ending to our visit to the Midwest to see family. Next year we'll be attending another wedding since Chris proposed to Kendra a few weeks ago. Looking forward to another daughter in the family. Love our family time.

So that brings us to where we are now. Comlara County Park in Hudson, IL. We have a few days to visit with my brother, Kent and girlfriend Nancy and have dinner with friends we have known forever in Bloomington/Normal, IL.

Next stop is Ray Behrens COE near Monroe City, MO. Meeting up with the Wandering Camels, Faye and Dave Malouf again and travel back west. Oh the fun times to come.....We've got some great places to see on the way back so hopefully I can keep up and share as we travel along. I hope you'll stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Catching up with The Wandering Iowa

It was a 190 mile trek from Forest City, IA to Coralville, IA to meet up with our good friends Faye and Dave...AKA The Wandering Camels. If you've read my blog before, you know that we met Faye and Dave through our blogs and Faye has family in IL not far from where we enjoyed camping in our early days. Well maybe a year before we went full time in an RV. Anyway, since that time we've had the opportunity to travel with them across the Gulf States, visit them at their owner site in Port Aransas, TX at Gulf Waters RV Resort and visit them at Cave Creek, AZ where they workamped a couple winters ago. They again are workamping here in IA at an Army Corp of Engineers campground. The gig they had in Colorado this summer fell through due to the fires there. Got pretty close and they had to evacuate. So they found another gig in Iowa of all places.

Well being this close to friends, there was no way we weren't going to stop and hang out. We got a text from Faye the day we were to arrive stating that we shouldn't worry about dinner. Oh yeah, that meant Dave was smoking some meat. Actually some fantastic ribs. They also had stopped at a local produce stand and picked up some delicious sweet corn. And you can't forget Dave's mouthwatering Mac N Cheese. We certainly got our fill along with some new beers I brought.

Like the wonderful bloggers we are.....we didn't get a single photo. Just happy to hanging with friends.

We sat around after dinner and caught up on their travels and work and our travels and service work.

They had the next couple day off so we planned some time getting our walking in during the day and then hanging out together. The next time was at our site. in a different loop not too far from where the workampers sites are.

They had scoped out a great loop and site and we were fortunate to be able to reserve it. The site backed right up to the Coralville Lake. Nice spacing between sites and partially shaded. A huge yard area and cool views of the lake behind us.

Enlarge the photos for best viewing

We had a glowing camp fire and enjoyed more conversation and friendship. This is what the lifestyle is about. Delicious food and cold beverages and great company.

I was able to snag some photos from Dave to document our fun time. Never a dull moment we say.

The next day we planned to check out the McBride Raptor Project at the nearby McBride Park which is now called the Iowa Raptor Project. The mission of the Iowa Raptor Project is to connect students and community to the conservation of birds of prey and their natural habitats through research and education opportunities. IRP is a jointly sponsored program of University of Iowa Recreational Services and Kirkwood Community College. 

The Raptor Center currently displays 17 unreleaseable birds of prey historically found in Iowa. The Raptor Center is open to the public! 

We arrived at the Raptor Center and immediately we were greeted by a young lady holding a Red Tail Hawk. The hawk had an injured wing and was unable to be released into the wild. 

Emily was very informative in her answers to our questions. Which, of course, Dave had a ton of. However, that how we learn and Dave is extremely inquisitive. We continued on to see a barn owl and a Great Horned owl.

Then it was on to more Red Tail Hawks, Turkey Vultures and eventually we had the pleasure of viewing some Bald Eagles. 

Can't remember the name of this bird

This eagle was an older eagle who had been there for a few years due to his prior injury that prevented his release.

One of the volunteers was cleaning his cage and he was asking her to Please Leave.

We walked down a path to view the lake and Faye and I happened upon a geocache along the trail. 

Dave and Glenda continued on the path while we recorded our find. Once we caught up we took some photos of the lake and our queens. 

Osprey next exhibit

The Queens

After our trip to the Raptor Project, we decided to drive into town and eat some dinner. Faye and Dave found a wonderful casual dining Mexican Restaurant. The food was fantastic and so were the Margaritas. After dinner we stopped at a local cupcake bakery for some take home dessert. We were all too full to eat cupcakes right then.

The final day of our stay Faye and Dave had to work so we planned another dinner at our site after they got off. I grilled out burgers and brats. and we had a couple of side dishes. I believe Faye and Dave had some sweet corn left so we threw those in too.

Side Note: I went our earlier in the day to get the grill ready and took the cover off. To my surprise there was a mouse next between the cover and the grill and some nest in the grill. I shook out the next and suddenly a mouse ran out of the next on the ground. Woah....Then I saw a couple of mice babies. Those ugly kind with no fur just skin and squiggling around. I threw them out into the woods. Sorry but had to be done. Then the mother mouse continued to hang round under the motorhome. Wasn't going to take any chances. I asked Dave if he had any traps from when they had a mouse problem. He still had some dried up peanut butter on it. I set it and laid it near where I had seen the mouse earlier. Well...mother mouse committed suicide. Problem solved. Again, it had to be done. 

We had a final camp fire and more great conversation with Faye and I doing some planning for this fall. You see They're heading to TX and since we're heading back to AZ. Our paths will join for a while. We found some great Army Corp Parks and State Parks in MO, KS, OK, TX and NM. Only one commercial RV park. Save a lot of money and more our type of camping.

He's the guy....No, He's the guy

Life is Good

We said our see you later's with big hugs and no tears because we'll be back together soon.

The next day we got ready and made our way to Elgin, IL and the Paul Wolf Campground in the Burnidge Forest Preserve to visit our daughter, Heather, Paul and grandson, Aiden. 

Still a lot going on so I hope you'll follow along.