Kartchner Caverns SP Foothills

Kartchner Caverns SP Foothills
Kartchner Caverns SP Foothills

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spending time with family in Illinois and Indiana

We've been here in Central IL for about 2 weeks now. This has been a wonderful time to be near family. A week ago Sunday was Mother's Day so we planned to go to our daughter, Heather's home in Bartlett, IL along with our son, Chris, who flew in from Mesa, AZ and our daughter, Sommer in Indiana came with the family. A perfect day for celebrating Mother's Day having all the kids with their mother.

Heather, Glenda, Chris and Sommer

So great to have the mother's in our family together.


We're so blessed that all our kids and grandkids are healthy, happy and able to spend the day with us.

We grilled burgers, brats and everyone hung around outside on a beautiful day.


Ryleigh and Aiden

Caden

Playing with the bubble machine

Everyone getting into it


If you know our son, Chris, you know he's quite the attention getting guy so hand stands were in order for him.


I could do that when I was his age too.

When you're having so much fun it's hard to see everyone heading back to their homes. Of course we had to do some family photos with the whole group and the youngest grandson with his little stuffed animal and making fish lips. Aiden is too cute.



Mom and Dad taught him how to do this move...if you don't know what it is, you should look it up

Grandma and Grandpa with the grandkids(minus 2)

The crazy family

We could not have asked for a better day.

Had to include one more of the ham in the family...wonder where he gets it.


After that fun weekend we came back to B/N and took care of a couple appointments and more visiting with my Dad.

Last weekend we made the trip up to Osceola, IN to spend additional time with our daughter, Sommer and family. We always enjoy visiting our kids and seeing how well all they're doing.

No specific plans other than doing some yardwork and hanging out. We had the opportunity to take our SIL's mother with us to visit too. The drive there can be long so it's nice to share the ride with her.

Barb and Todd

We had some rain over the weekend but Todd and I got the mulching around the house done and pulled some weeds. Before we left we took a trip to the Garden Center and picked up a few new plants that didn't make it over the winter. They've done such a great job of landscaping around the home


When we left on Sunday it was a bittersweet time. Our oldest granddaughter, Jasmyne, is moving to MI to work and go to school. She's getting an apartment with a girlfriend and we'll miss seeing her on our next visit in a couple weeks. We've had so much fun seeing her mature into a wonderful, lovely young woman. We're so happy to have had the opportunity to have her travel with us a couple weeks last summer after her high school graduation.

Las Vegas - Michael Jackson One


Zion NP


Bryce Canyon NP

Another fantastic weekend with family.

Missing Brooklyne and Mason

We couldn't let the weekend go by without a group selfie.


We're back in B/N again with more visiting and appointments with the dentist and for the truck.

Looking forward to seeing more friends and spending more family time here too.

Thanks for following along.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Back in Illinois....Rend Lake, Bo Wood and Kamp Komfort

When we left Big Stone Gap, Va. we spent one night in KY before moving into Illinois. We had a reservation at South Marcum campground at Rend Lake. This is an Army Corp. of Engineer park that we've been to before. We enjoy the area because there is so much wildlife in the area. We regularly see deer, raccoon, skunk and vultures. But if you go over by the dam you'll also see egrets and heron at the bottom of the dam waiting for the fish flowing over the dam to swim by and snatch them up.



This year the Midwest has had several rain storms and the water in the lake is overflowing the dam at a rapid pace. Due to the rain some of the campground loops sere closed and a couple of paths were blocked by water. Each day we were able to get out and walk to get our 10-12,000 steps in. Trying to maintain a good exercise program as we travel.

We had a wonderful site with great views of the lake out our back window however the site was a little tight for our rig with trees lining the sides of the pad. Almost impossible to open our awning all the way.


The bedroom slide was about 12 inches from the slide

No way we can open the awning

Great lake view

Well the weather again turned bad and the wind really picked up on our last couple of days. We were rocking and rolling and feared the trees might come crashing down on us. Fortunately we made it through. On one of our walks we did see a downed tree that had been uprooted by the rain soaked ground and wind. The tree had fallen across the road in the loop but luckily no campers were very close. The staff had gotten out quickly and cut up the tree to make the loop accessible.

We usually get some bike riding in when we stay here but with the weather and our walking/hiking/running challenge we decided to keep it simple and not get the bikes down from the rack. We had a good time at Rend Lake but we were ready to move on to Bo Wood by Lake Shelbyville in Central Illinois. In addition we looked forward to getting together with our good friends Faye and Dave from The Wandering Camels. Faye and Dave are workamping at Opossum Creek.

We arrived at Bo Wood and got set up and drove over to the Lake Shelbyville Visitor's Center where they have been working. We had made plans to go to one of our favorite pizza places....Monical's Pizza. This is a small chain in the Midwest and their pizza is delicious. We got our fill of pizza and some of us even had enough for leftovers. So good to see them again after our travels across the Gulf States from TX.

Site 79

Big yard

We made plans for them to come to our site a couple days later after another one of their work shifts. One big reason was our trailer brakes had a broken brake line (that sounds weird) and needed repair and we needed to bleed all the brakes for the brakes to work properly. Stupid me, I never fully checked the trailer brakes when we got the rig and we have been driving for the last 3 years with out them. I thought all I had to do was set the brake controller in the truck and I was good to go. Not So. This had put a lot of wear on our truck brakes and it's just totally unsafe. Anyway, Dave the Mechanical Master has all the tools to make the repair. They arrived and we got to work. First we bled all the other brakes. I made sure Dave showed me where this was done and after his instruction I performed the task with his assistance. Once that was down Dave took a look at the brake line and noticed that the end of the line needed to be flared so it would fit properly at the brake caliper and not leak....which it had been doing since I was not able to flare the end myself. Dave had the tool and after a few tries we got the right  flare and seal with NO LEAK. What an incredible relief. PS - I tried the brake controller on the day we left and WOW what a wonderful difference. WE HAVE BRAKES.

After working on the brakes we took a good walk around the park and worked up an appetite for some dinner. We grilled some hamburgers, potatoes, corn and Faye made a delicious Pistachio Salad.

The good life

You're the man....No you're the man

Then it was our turn to visit their campground and have dinner there. We took a nice long walk around the park and Faye and I looked for a Geocache but came up DNF(Did Not Find). Dave the MASTER CHEF fixed us some of their shrimp from when they were in TX and some fish that Dave had caught there too. We had all the fix'ns and I made sure to bring some good beer.

Can you smell the shrimp?

This is how you do it Curt

A meal fit for a QUEEN...right Faye?

The campground where they are staying is a beautiful park with a boat launch and tent sites with incredible views of the lake. While they've been there they have been keeping track of the lake levels as they've had a lot of rain too. There is a campground near the dam that had to be closed and campers moved due to the rising water. The boat launch at their park is only open for the high water launch because the regular launch area is totally underwater.

As if our first meal with them wasn't enough before we left the area they had us over again to their campground for some walking, sightseeing and dinner. This time it was Dave's famous ribs. Much better that FAMOUS DAVES BBQ the restaurant.

Falling off the bone

I'd be smiling too and I was

Glenda wishes I could cook like that

In addition to s rubbing , smoking and cooking his famous ribs....he also made some of his famous MAC and CHEESE. He told me the secret ingredient but I can't tell you or I would have to ...well you know. (Don't tell Dave I told you but the secret ingredient is LOVE)  Not sure what we brought other than a good appetite. Faye made a delicious grape salad and we totally pigged out.

We always have so much great food, great fun and renewal of our GREAT friendship.

Well the fun with RV friends ended and we moved up to the Bloomington/Normal area and our current RV park...Kamp Komfort.

Site 73 near the interstate

Looking out the door and seeing semis blasting down the road

One side is Interstate 74 and the other is a train track. Not the serenity we had at Rend Lake and Bo Wood. It's your typical park but it's home while we visit family and friends here. So far we had dinner with some friends we've known since we came to this area in 1977. We also spent last weekend Mother's Day weekend at our daughter's in Chicago. I'll post more on that soon.

Well that gets me pretty close to caught up. Now we get to see the dentist, an oil change and new front brakes for the truck and visit our daughter in Indiana for the weekend. So far it's been a great visit. More on that soon too.

Thanks for following along.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Charleston, SC, Warrior Creek COE, NC and Big Stone Gap, VA - Jessie Lea RV park

After our time in Savannah, Ga we moved north into SC. We were able to reserve a site at the James Island County Campground. The roads into the park will give you some moments of low clearance heart stoppage. However the trees are trimmed to just clear the top of semis and RV's. The area is beautiful with Live Oaks and Palmettos. We had a great pull through site with FHU's and nice foliage for privacy. Our first evening we explored the local area around the park and came across a restaurant right on the intercoastal waterway. There was a draw bridge on the waterway and we had the opportunity to see a boat with high clearance go through with the bridge up.

Enlarge the photos for best viewing


The Charleston Seafood House had delicious food and great views as you can see.

Shrimp and Grits for me

Seafood Platter with Lima Beans for Glenda

We only had 2 days in the Charleston area so we contacted the park office and signed up for a shuttle to downtown Charleston from the park and back again. Cost only $10 per person round trip. Much easier than finding parking downtown for our truck.


The shuttle dropped us off at the Visitors Center

Glenda had done some planning for our sightseeing tour of Charleston. She contacted a walking tour company for a tour and lecture of Charleston history with emphasis on Slavery and the Civil War.

Our tour guide had us meet him at the Washington Park a few blocks away. So much history of Charleston in that park too.




Dennis Stiles, our guide, told us that SC was the first state to secede from the union and the convention held in Charleston had 169 delegates who ALL voted to secede. The only state where ALL delegates voted to secede. 169-0. Charleston was also a huge hub for the slave trade in the US at that time. Charleston was also an area where slaves were able to escape from their masters and go north to free states. There were even a few free slaves that owned businesses in Charleston after the war. Quite an interesting diversity in culture and societal hierarchy.

The building where the secession vote took place
.
Charleston is rich in architecture too. Some building had multicolor facades and can not be changed due to the historical preservation.

Enlarge the photo to view the colors best

Of course there is some very tragic history in relation to the Charleston Massacre of black church members by Dylan Roof. Our guide pointed out the federal building where his trial took place.

Federal Building

Our tour was over a 3 hour period and Dennis gave us so much information there is no way I can even come close to remembering and passing on all that information. I highly recommend a visit to Charleston especially if you are a history/civil war buff.

Here are several photos of some historic and architectural buildings of Charleston.

Dennis our tour guide










Many homes have gas lanterns in the front of their homes

The walking tour ended at Riverfront Park where cargo ships and sail boats pass back and forth. The local community college even has a class on sailing.

Sail boats everywhere



Cargo ship


After the tour we headed to a restaurant for some lunch. We tried to get into a couple of places but the wait was too long so we settled on the Noisy Oyster along the main street. Good food and right on the street. Unfortunately there was street work going on outside and it took away some of the atmosphere.

We continued our walk around the downtown and then made our way back to the visitors center for our ride back to the park.

James Island County Park has great bike walking paths throughout and we took advantage of as much as we could.



We even had several opportunities to find some geocaches. I even had a First to Find cache. That means I was the first person to find the cache after the cache owner placed it. That was my first "First to Find". Something exciting for a geocacher.

We had a wonderful time and learned so much from our visit to Charleston. I would certainly come back to the area and try to stay at James Island County Park again.

We had a recommendation from our good friends Steve and Deb at Down the Road (Fast and Loose...inside joke) to go see the Angel Tree on Johns Island. So we found it on our GPS and made the drive our last day.

The Angel Oak Tree is very large and very old. Estimated at around 400 years old. This is a free must see attraction. About a 1/4 mile from the area you have to drive on a gravel road, very narrow and a little bumpy but easy to access.


You get a good perspective of how large when compared to the people around the base

The branches are so heavy and large there are several that have to be supported

Large supports and small


The tree is so large it's difficult to get all of it in the photo at one time.

After our stop in the Charleston area in South Carolina we moved further north into North Carolina and stayed at the Warrior Creek COE west of Winston-Salem. This is a beautiful park with tons of hiking trails. Unfortunately We couldn't hike any because of the rain in the area. There was so much rain recently they even had to close some of the day use areas. However, this made for a quiet park without lot of other campers.

We had a really large pull through site 130 by 50 ft. on an elevated area of the park.
We left Charleston in 80 degree weather and set up at Warrior Creek in 50 degree weather and rain.





The park is somewhat hilly so on our walks each day we got plenty of exercise going up and down the hills. We wish we could have enjoyed more of the park but the rain was on and off during our 2 day stay. The campers in sites on the loser part of the park had to move to higher ground due to possible flooding.





Unlike our walk at Palmetto Island SP with our friends Faye and Dave we were prepared for the weather.




The sun came out on the second day so we inspected the flooding in the lower part of the park. The water was getting pretty close to the sites there.

We were walking along the road by our site and we came across this snail trying to make it's way to the other side.



On our last day as we were packing up to leave there was this beautiful Rosy Maple Moth on the side of the rig. The colors were vibrant yellow and pink. What an awesome find.

We enjoyed our stay in North Carolina and would love to come back again in the future.

After NC we moved on into Virginia and the Jessie Lea RV Park and Campground. Nice little park with a very laid back owner. We pulled up to the office, IN THE RAIN, and had to call the number on the door. The owner doesn't have regular office hours. He originally was going to give us a back in site but we saw a pull through that was vacant and the owner being so laid back said go ahead and take it. We decided to just unhitch and go get a bite to eat in town. Big Stone Gap is a small Appalachian town with great mountain landscape.



I took these the next day after the rain.

The RV park is close to a 4 mile multi use path so we got our steps in along this path each day along with finding a couple of geocaches.


The path runs along side a creek

Found this carving along the path

We only had a couple of days at the park and we heard a lot about the Natural Tunnel State Park nearby so we planned a day to explore the park and  tunnel. Again it had rained a lot the day or so before so the paths were still damp but not enough to deter us. We stopped at the visitor center but at this time of year it was not open during the week. Things will get going strong after Memorial Day.

So we had the park mostly to our selves. We hiked up to Lovers Leap and got great views of the canyon below where the Main Tunnel is.


Chimney Rock in the background



We even saw that there was an Earth Geocache at the coordinates for Lovers Leap so we answered the questions about the area and made the find. After some additional hiking around Lovers Leap, we had a little snack and then headed out for more. We hiked a couple other trails that lead to the campgrounds in the park. There were several sites that would work for us but we found that the rate for sites there was more than what we paid at Jessie Lea RV park. Depends on what type of camping/RVing you're looking for.

Then we took the trail that lead down to the tunnels in the park. The main tunnel actually is a working train tunnel for the coal industry in the area.

Switchbacks down to the bottom





Main Tunnel


They have a chairlift for those not interested or able to hike down and then climb back up

Lots of steps

Our travels have now lead us to some new states and increased our numbers of places we've stayed.

The icing on the cake was our last night at Jessie Lea was a bluegrass jam session. The main talent was two young ladies who played guitar, mandolin and violin along with singing. What a treat.

Maggie and Beth

Even got the owners grandkids involved


Other musicians getting involved

We certainly do love this part of the country with the down to earth folks and hospitality. The laid back lifestyle is contagious and also reminds us of what we have in this lifestyle.

We're moving closer and closer to IL and spending time with our family and friends. We have  a couple of stops in IL before we get to see everyone again. Rend Lake (South Marcum) and Lake Shelbyville (Bo Wood) are up next. Thanks for following along.