Elephant Butte Lake

Elephant Butte Lake
Elephant Butte Lake

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winterized and put to bed

Well, Last week I hitched up the camper and towed it over to the dealer and had them winterize the water system. I know I could do it myself but I just felt better having them do it this time. I watched closely as the service guy pumped antifreeze through the system. It was easier than I thought it would be. I will definitely try it myself next year.

On the way back to town(I had to go to East Peoria to the dealer) as I go to the east side of Bloomington I decided to check out a local truck wash facility. I heard they washed RV's and motor homes in addition the the big rigs that frequent the truck stop near by. I pulled into the driveway and waited until a guy came out and asked me what type of service I needed. I told him I just needed the camper washed on the outside. He, of course wanted to sell me some extra services(rain-x, wax/polish) but I didn't think I would need those things since we bought a cover to put over the camper. It worked well last winter so that is what we are doing again.

They used some high pressure sprayers that really did a good job on the bugs on the front of the camper. After they rinsed it off I paid and drove over to the storage facility and backed into our space. I actually did it all by myself since Glenda usually is with me to guide me in but she was working. It went better than I thought. After Glenda got off work we went back to the storage area and got most of our clothes and food stuffs out and made sure everything was secure. I got up on the roof and laid out the cover and fitted it around the camper. We secured it with straps that are connected to the bottom.

It fits well and I remembered to put the tennis balls on the gutter extensions so they wouldn't poke holes in the cover. In case you are wondering it is an Adco Travel Trailer Cover and I got it from Camping World. So we are looking forward to next season and making plans. Can't wait until we can do this full time and we don't have to think about things like winterizing or for that matter winter at all. Now it's time to get through the holidays. Until next time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Busy Summer...Fall is on the way

Well I haven't done any posts since our trip to Marion, IL and the Benton KOA but that doesn't mean we haven't been busy. We have gotten out a few times with the camper but the trips are just weekends fairly close to home. We have been back to Bo Wood at Lake Shelbyville, Rock Island KOA near the Quad Cities and we went to our local county campground at Lake Evergreen called Comlara Park. But the big event for me this summer was my motorcycle trip to Sturgis, SD for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. My friend Darrell and two of his friends from Iowa headed out on Aug. 3rd and rode to O'Neill, NE the first day. The next day we headed out and traveled to the Badlands National Park.


The landscape there is incredible
 

As the sign indicates it is best to stay on the trail.
 

Of course after a while it starts to look the same.
 
 
We stayed in Rapid City with some folks that my friends knew from previous trips to Sturgis. This was my first time there. The Sturgis Rally draws around 400,000 motorcycle enthusiasts each year and this was the 72nd year of the event. Everywhere we rode there were motorcycles.
 
The first full day there we went into Sturgis the town and went to the Full Throttle Saloon.
 
 
This is a famous bar in the area that people go to for the evening and night time activity.
 

As you can tell the scenery is easy on the eyes.
 
After we left Full Throttle we went down town to do some more people watching.
 

Well there is alot more to see than people so we decided the next day we would ride over to Wyoming a see Devil's Tower. This is a large rock formation that is said to be made from left over magma from a unerupted volcano.


We didn't go into the park area around Devil's Tower because I would like to come back someday with Glenda and our camper so we can explore the area together.

We rode through Custer Sate Park and rode on the Needles Hwy.


The road is very narrow and there are even a couple of tunnels cut through the rock as you travel through the area.


There are so many roads to ride on and the sights and sounds are the best. Especially if you are a motorcycle enthusiast.
 

We rode over to see Mount Rushmore one day.
 

Then we had to ride through Spearfish Canyon near(of course) Spearfish, SD
 

As you can see the landscape is just breathtaking. It seemed like the sky was blue-er than what we see in IL.
 
We were there at the rally for about 4-5 days and then we had to head back home. I rode a total of 2700 miles in one week.
I look forward to going back again some day. I would like to do the rally again in a couple of years.
I will definitely return one day with Glenda to spend some real time with the camper in this part of God's country.
 
Working toward retirement. And it won't be long. :-)

 
 


 

 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Working Vacation in Marion, IL

We have a new employee in our department at work and by boss asked if I would go to Marion, IL to do some face to face training with her. So being the camper that I am I asked if would be ok fi I took the camper down to a nearby campground to stay in while there. I had the opportunity to take Glenda and I thought it would be nicer for her to be in our camper than sitting in a hotel room. In addition it would save the company some money(just doing my part for expense control). I figured I would just pay for it myself since it was my idea to go with my truck and stay in a campground. My boss liked the idea since she has done some camping in the past with her family. So she emails the Business Travel Center and Financial Services and they both agreed that the company would pay for the campground fees and mileage. I couldn't believe it. How great was that. Marion, IL is near Rend Lake in southern IL. Rend Lake Information This is a nice website that has an overview of what is available around the area. We decided to stay at the Benton KOA right off I-57 at exit 71. Coming from the north you turn left after exiting and get on Main St, go across the overpass and turn left at the first light. There is a CVS and Pizza Hut on each corner. You then go about one mile and the KOA is on the right. It is a typical KOA with gravel roads and sites.


Fortunately we had an end site with a dry creek on the awning side that went behind out site. As always with a gravel road there was alot of dust from rigs going in and out. The other thing was it was right next to the Interstate. All day and all night traffic sounds were constant. Of course we did have cable, and full hook ups so we made due with what we had. After being there just one day we could tell it was more of an overnight KOA than a stay and play. Fortunately I was gone all day working but Glenda had put up with the noise since I had the only transportation. She did go to the pool each day which helped her keep cool. I forgot to mention the Midwest is in an incredible heat wave with temps in the upper 90's to low 100's. We found out our air conditioning works and we were very thankful for that.


This is a picture of the sites on the other side of the dry creek where rigs went past our site as the parade of campers came in in the evening and left in the morning. If only we had done a little more research in regard to the campgrounds around Rend Lake. One of the reasons we chose the KOA is it was close to the Rend Lake Bike Trail. Currently there is a 9.4 mile bike trail open on the east side of Rend Lake with more trails to open later on. The current trail is broken up into 2 parts. The north trail runs for 5.9 miles from the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park Office (off of 154) to Rend Lake College. The south trail (not currently connected to the north trail) runs for 3.8 miles from the Southern Illinois Artisan Shop & Visitor Center to the North Marcum Swim Beach. Each evening after we had dinner we explored the bike trail.


I actually took this shot of Glenda while riding down the trail and held the camera over my shoulder. It turned out pretty good I must say. As we rode on the bike trail it wound around some of the Rend Lake campsgounds(North Sandusky, South Sandusky, North Marcum and South Marcum). We found out quickly that even with most sites having only electrical hook ups and a few with full hook ups there was lots of shade and peace and quiet. It would have only been a few more miles to travel to my work destination each day to stay at one of these campgrounds. But now we know.


The other great thing about staying in a more wooded forest type area was the incredible number of deer than we saw along the roadway into the park and even along the bike trail. I was able to get a somewhat blurry photo of a deer that we came upon while riding one evening on the trail.


You would think we had never seen deer before but just being able to get that close and to see so many around the area it felt so natural and like we were far from civilization. We will definitely be going back in the future. There is a nice beach area that you can go to if you pay a day use fee. I don't remember what the amount is off hand but it would be worth it.


We stopped one night as we rode through the South Sandusky campground loop and talked to the cmap hosts. Very nice folks that only lived a few miles away but came to the campgrounds for years so when they retired they applied to be hosts and have been doing that for 7 months each year for the past 5 years. They gave us a load of information. That is what is so great about the camping life, people are so friendly. We got to the Rend Lake area on Sunday, I worked until Wednesday and then we traveld back to Central IL on Thursday. We weren't ready to go home yet so we drove on up to Comlara Park(Lake Evergreen) just about 10 miles north of Normal, IL and got a nice site for the rest of the weekend. We asked what sites were open and they told us #48A was available. That is a nice shaded site at the entrence to one of the loops in the park. It is a popular site since people are going in and out of the park along the road infront of the site. The great thing is it is set back enough from the road that you don't feel like people are looking in on you but you still can do your own people watching.


The weather was still really hot but on Saturday we got a nice little thunderstorm to cool down the temps for a while. It was very spotty and I don't think it rained much in the surrounding area or at our house in Normal.


We decided to pack up around noon on Sunday and take the camper to the storage facility and then headed home to get cleaned up. Later on Sunday we took a drive to east of town near LeRoy, IL and checked out Moraineview State Park. There are 137 Class A trailer campsites with electricity and a sanitary station. Water is available in several locations in the campground. So we may be going there next weekend.  The 1,687-acre Moraine View State Recreation Area, with its 158-acre lake(Dawson Lake), is a beautiful, convenient and accessible locale for relaxation and recreation. For some reason we can't get enough of this camping thing. I'll let you know soon if we make it out to the campgound this coming weekend. Stay cool and Happy Camping.







Thursday, June 7, 2012

Quad Cities KOA

Well, the weekend before last we spent helping our daughter in Indiana move to a new home. Finally after what seemed like a million trips back and forth from the old house to the new we got her and the family settled in. The house is great and they are very happy. Which brings us to last weekend. Glenda and I needed some camping time so I took off early on Friday and we reserved a spot at the Quad Cities KOA(check out their link in "places we have been") near Milan, IL on 78th Ave. We took I-74W through Peoria and over to I-280W and got off at exit 11A which is also IL Rt 92. We only had to go about a mile to 78th Ave and then a half mile east to the KOA. We had reserved a back in site with full hook ups but since there was no other camper in the site behind us we were able to pull through that site to ours.


Once we got the camper set up and the campsite we had some dinner. Glenda had done some pulled pork  in the crock pot at home and brought some along. We had some cole slaw and watermelon on the side.

After we cleaned up dinner we had a campfire and enjoyed a quiet night. It was a nice cool night so the fleece sheets we brought felt great to sleep on. I love to sleep with the window open and feel warm and cozy under the covers.

The next morning(Saturday)after we had our oatmeal and I had my coffee we decided we would ride our bikes on the Iowas side of the Mississippi River. So we took Route 92 over the river and got off at the first exit to the downtown area of Davenport, IA. We parked in a parking lot near the lock and dam(raises and lowers water level so barges carrying goods can navigate the river) and rode south along the river a few miles. We came to a park called Credit Island. They have a boat launch area and some shelters for picnics throughout the park.



In the distance is the downtown area I spoke of and right next to where I am standing is the boat launch. We rode back to the downtown area and passed by the Rhythm City Casino. This is a riverboat casino on the Mississippi.


Next we rode closer to the lock and dam and saw some pelicans near where the water is let through. They were dipping their heads in the water to try to catch fish that are churned up by the rushing water.



We decided to ride a little further north and we passed by a nice little river side restaurant called the Boathouse. They have typical burgers and fries and some homecooked type of fare.


It was getting late and we were ready to get back to the campsite. We ended up having some leftover pulled pork, cole slaw and some potato salad. After that we had another small campfire with a few marshmellows for good measure. And then time for bed.

On Sunday it was a little cloudy to start so we hung out at the campsite for the morning and once the weather began to clear we headed out for a bike ride on the Illinois side of the river. We have been to the Quad Cities several times to ride on the Great River Trail before we got the camper and we like to drive a little north of the Rock Island/Moline area near the small town of Hampton on Route 84.


The bike path runs right next to Route 84 in some places but it does go through the town of Hampton. There is a quaint little shop there that has ice cream and sandwiches and you can go around the back and sit on their deck with a great view of the river. We had already had a light lunch before going out so we didn't stop there this time.


As we were riding back we rode through the Corp of Engineers Recreation area where they have water and electric hook ups with great sites along the river. The area is called Fisherman's Corner.


We plan to stay here the next time we come to this area. We like full hook ups but it would be worth it to for-go the sewer for the great river views and the bike trail right next to the park. The fees are about half what we would pay to stay at the KOA. Typically $16-18 and they would honor the America the Beautiful Pass for Seniors(which I will qualify for in August - I turn 62). This would make the fee half.

Well we continued our ride back to where we parked and rode through a nice park with a playground and another great view of the river.


I took some of these pictures as I rode along the bike path. I was very careful to watch where I was going .



It was easy since Glenda was in front of me and I could watch where she was going.





Some nice shaded areas and as we got closer to the downtown area where we parked the truck we passed by the John Deere distribution plant.





Well we got back to the Ben Butterworth Park in downtown Moline and headed back to the KOA to get cleaned up for dinner. We showered at the campgound showers and  relaxed for a while before driving to the River House Bar and Grill. We have eaten there before and go back everytime we are in the area. I had the Seafood Pasta dish and Glenda had the Tilapia. We were full but not too full to go to Whitey's Ice Cream. I neglected to tell you that when we are in the Quad Cities we always go to Whitey's. I also neglected to tell you that we went to Whitey's in Friday night after we set up the camp site and we were back after our ride on Saturday before we drove to the KOA.  That's why we ride our bikes. :-)

I love the White Chocolate Raspberry and Coconut Joy(like an Almond Joy)  and Glenda loves the Banana and Coconut Joy. I like it in a cup and she likes a sugar cone.




We will definitely be back the next time we are in town.


Well we heard there was a chance of rain on Monday and sure enough before we started to get ready to go home it did rain briefly. We used the one side lower technique to keep the rain from pooling on the awning. Seemed to work pretty good.  



Fortunately the rain stopped so we could ready the camper for our trip back home. It's about a 3 hour drive to Normal. It was great to have the extra day off so we could have two full days at the KOA. It just seems too short to set up on Friday evening and then take down on Sunday morning but we take what we can get right now. Retirement is only 3 years away. Happy Camping eveyone.




Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kayaking on the Blackwater River

The Blackwater River is considered one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the world. The river's sand-bottom, dark tannin water, and contrasting large white sandbars have drawn worldwide attention, and provide the perfect setting for this 590-acre park. The river has been designated a Florida canoe trail, and the last two miles are located within the park.  Glenda and I wanted to do some kayaking while we were in Florida so we did some research and found out we could rent a couple of kayaks from an outfitter near the entrance to Blackwater River State Park. We headed north on Hwy 87 for about 20 miles then we took a right turn on Hwy 90E, 7 miles to the town of Harold, Left turn onto Deaton Bridge Road, then about 1 1/2 miles to the outfitter. We paid for the kayaks and then we had to drive another  mile up the road to the parking lot just outside the park where a gentleman, whose name was Paul, from the outfitter had kayaks and canoes loaded on a trailer behind an open bed truck. We climbed in the back of the truck with  2 other couples and Paul drove us to the put in point up the river.


Glenda was one of the first to get started so she had to pull up to a sandbar and wait for me to get going. The scenery was fantastic with all the natural habitat and white sandy beaches.


The wildlife was a little sparse with only a few turtles sunning themselves on logs along the river. I don't have a camera with a long range zoom so I had to be very quiet and slow moving to get close enough to get a decent photo. Here's what I was able to accomplish.


The river had a pretty decent current so we actually moved along quickly. I was able to get out of the main current a few times to get some pictures of the aquatic plants. I got this picture of what I found out later to be an American Lotus. It was still early in the season so the plants hadn't opened up yet.


The water is fairly clear and you could see the sandy bottom easily. From what I understand this is the only sand bottom river in the US.


We continued to paddle and pass by numerous sandbars and into the Blackwater River State Park.




It was such a relaxing paddle down the river and with the current it took us about half the time that we were told it would take to go the 4 miles on that part of the river. We weren't really looking to spend all day on the river but we got a taste of what the river has to offer. People can canoe, kayak or even tube down the river. If it had been a little later in the season(it's only March) we probably would have taken more time to picnic on a beach or swim in the river. But we came to the end of the canoe trail as we passed under the one and only bridge we came too. Signs told us it was time to take out on the other side of the bridge.





One of the other couples(Keith and Deb) that we were on the river with were staying in the state park in the campground so when we came to the take out point they were waiting for Paul to come and take them back to their campsite so we offered for them to jump into the back of our truck and we drove them about a mile to the entrance of the park and then on around to their site. They had a Class C camper and were planning on leaving back to Alabama the next day. It was nice to talk to them and we found out that Deb was a Social worker at an elementary school and they were out on Spring Break too. The funny thing is Glenda is a secretary at an elementary school. So they had some things in common. It was great meeting them and we wished them well as we headed back to our RV park on the beach. We will definitely consider coming back to the Blackwater State Park in the future.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Break in Navarre Florida

We had a great week in Navarre(NAV-are) Florida. Our first trip out of Illinois. We learned a few things about longer distance travel. Semi's can really do a number on your driving as they pass you by. Everytime one would pass it would pull the truck toward the passing lane and I would have to compensate by steering to the right. When traveling and everyone else is going to the same area (in this case Florida) it is hard to find a rest stop or truck stop that isn't completely full when you are ready to rest for the night. I will either stop earlier or figure out about where I want to stop and get a campground reservation ahead of time. We ended up driving until 1 am and stopped at the Alabama Welcome Center.


The next day we got to Emerald Beach RV Park around 3pm. They had our reservation and gave us a map of the park and we found our site at the far end of the park.


The sites are level with full hook ups, WiFi and cable TV. There was only one camper between us and the beach area.


As soon as we got set up we went down on the beach to enjoy the view. I was so happy that we were able to reserve this site at this RV park. Even though it is a little expensive compared to other types of parks or campgrounds it was well worth it for our trip.


Once the sun began to set we decided to get some dinner at a little restaurant across the street from the park. This is the view we had that first evening.


Glenda and I love the beach so our first full day in Florida we started there in front of the RV park.


Since we had our bikes with us we talked to the staff in the office about where would be a good place to do some riding. They told us that by going over the causeway to Navarre Beach and the Gulf Island National Seashore we would find a great bike path. So we loaded up the bikes and headed over the causeway and sure enough we found a great place to ride. This is something we did every day were in Florida.


This protected area has pristine natural habitat for birds and other wildlife where no structures can be built to obscure this great beauty.









Once you are in the Gulf Island National Seashore the bike path becomes a bike lane along side the road from Navarre Beach to Pensacola Beach. The glow you can see in the distance is either the sand blowing in the air or the suns reflection from the pure white sand. I haven't figured that out yet. Very unique though.




One of the last evenings we were in Florida we took a walk along the beach and enjoyed the cool breeze and pounding surf.


The waves crashing onto the shore is quite loud and looks very powerful.



We had so much fun and look forward to returning to this area in the future. We also spent some time on the Blackwater River doing some kayaking which I will post in the next couple of days with some photos. This is Part 1.