Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hello from Miami, FL

Hello from Miami, FL

Saturday morning October 30, 2010 (First travelogue of this trip).

We are in Miami, Florida where we will depart on a cruise later today. This is a very special cruise since our niece Shawna and her fiance Bryan will be getting married later this week. Rather than getting married on the ship, their ceremony will be held in Cozumel.

Just a bit of background here. When we first heard of the wedding cruise, we knew that we could not afford to go. However, Pat was determined that we would go since most of her family was going. She decided to set a goal of paying for the trip with earnings from Ebay selling. Darned if she did not get the job done and we are not having to dig into our meager savings (wonderful economy {frown}).

Yesterday we flew from Denver to Ft. Lauderdale. What a trip that was. We flew Southwest Airlines and had fairly high seating numbers (no seat assignments on SW). We got all settled in and the pilot announced there was a problem. We ended up changing planes. Everyone was supposed to take the same seats – yeah right!!!! When we got on, almost every seat was filled except center seats. The stewardess talked a passenger into moving and we got to have a window and center seat. I don't like window seats (space seems too cramped), but it worked out OK for the long flight. When we did get to take off, the flight was pretty uneventful.

There were 20 people on the flight in our party. Additional folks will join us for the cruise – 26 altogether.

The travel agency that made all of the reservations arranged for a full size bus to pick us up at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale and transport us to the hotel in Miami. That normally takes 30-45 minutes depending on the traffic. It was probably longer last night, as we were in rush hour traffic and the Miami Heat (basketball) game traffic.

We are staying at the Marriott close to the dock. Indeed, if you look closely in the photo taken from our balcony, you will see some cruise ships. We are not sure if one of them is ours.

Photo of ships from our hotel balcony

Our cruise will be on the Norwegian Epic. It is a brand new ship (July 2010) and it is huge. It is rated at a bit over 4000 passengers! The ship details are detailed here . We will have more details as we cruise.

That is all for now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hello from Evergreen, CO

Hello from Evergreen, CO

Tuesday morning October 12, 2010 (fifth travelogue of this trip).

In our last post, I said that the travelogue for this trip was complete. As I drove yesterday, I thought of a couple of things that I had forgotten to say or wanted to add to this travelogue.

For our route home, I chose to go mostly two lane across Kansas and Colorado. Part of the decision was that we have traveled I-70 many times and I wanted to see new scenery. Secondly, this route was more direct. Lastly, I wanted to avoid the Kansas Turnpike (can you say cheap?). We chose to hook up with US 400 and US 50 for most of the trip.

We took most of that route when we traveled in September 2009 to an Eagle Bus Rally in Afton, Kansas in the service truck (blog link). On that trip we enjoyed the small farming communities and the huge feedlots in Kansas. On this trip, it was not quite as much fun, as we had a deadline to be back in Evergreen. Having said that, the small towns are fun to see, no matter what the situation.

We left Garden City at about 7:00 Evergreen time and got home about 2:30. I feel kind of bad that we cheated another towing company out of income {grin}. The bus did very well on the trip and we did not have to come home behind the hook.

The weather for the drive home was not ideal. It rained quite a bit in Kansas, and we had a pretty strong cross wind in CO. Guess I should not complain, as it is spitting snow as I type this.

As I had noted, we needed to be in Evergreen yesterday to be help our daughter's family while she has surgery today. She has had severe back problems for several years, and they are going to do a bit of a touchy surgery on her. She has a great blog that details her crazy life in Bailey, CO.   Her blog yesterday details the surgery (blog link). Obviously we are nervous, but taking care of the grandkids will keep our mind busy. Her husband will stay with her tonight in the hospital.

Every so often, I publish the statistics of our bus travels. We bought the bus in late 2000 and planned to do a quick conversion. We finally got it on the road for its maiden voyage on March 6, 2006. The bus is fully functional, but still has a lot of finish work that will get done someday. I have detailed the bus project (here). The project pages are in sad need of updating, but you can get a general feel for what the conversion project involved. I have not kept my time log up to date, but I can document at least 3,000 hours on the project.

The maiden voyage was a trip to California. We can't believe that I finished basic bus conversion (including a huge engine conversion project) and we headed out on a long trip. I was not bloging in those days, but I do have a lengthy travelogue that I might post someday.

Since our maiden voyage, we have driven the bus close to 61K miles and have spent 635 wonderful nights in it. At times it has been a love/hate relationship, but we can look back on some fun times in this crazy vehicle.

That is all for this trip (for sure this time).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hello from Garden City, KS

Hello from Garden City, KS

Sunday evening October 10, 2010 (fourth travelogue of this trip).

We are at a - drum roll please – Wal Mart (map). We left Carthage this morning about 8:30 and drove a bit over 400 miles. We have about 350 miles to drive tomorrow. Under normal conditions we would probably take three days, but we need to get home tomorrow so that we will be ready to help on Tuesday when our youngest daughter (Judy) has back surgery.

Yesterday we went to the Apple Butter Makin' Days Festival in Mt Vernon, MO. I mentioned this event in the last blog. Unlike the last time we tried to attend this festival, we did not have a medical emergency {grin}. Mt Vernon is a small (population 4017) town about 30 miles east of Carthage on I-44. During the festival, it is said that 40,000 people will attend the event. We have no doubt that at least that many folks attend, as the crowd was huge. They close down all of the streets around the court house square and there are a huge number of vendors. Most of the vendors are craft type products. The “must do” stops are the ribeye steak sandwich cooked by the Cattleman's Association and the apple dumpling (with ice cream) booth. While we were enjoying the dessert, we saw them put the Mrs. Smith dumpling boxes in the trash behind the booth {grin}.

At the festival, we spent some time talking to one of the people cooking apple butter in a huge copper kettle over an open wood fire. In the “old days” they used to spend many days peeling and coring the apples. Recently they discovered the vendor that furnished peeled sliced apples to McDonalds. Of course, we had to buy a couple of jars to take home.

Last night we had another great barbecue dinner. After dinner both nights we all sat around a large fire and had great discussions.

Guess that is all for this trip.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hello from Carthage, MO

Hello from Carthage, MO

Saturday Afternoon October 9, 2010 (third travelogue of this trip).

We are currently at a bus rally in Carthage, MO (map).  This is a small very informal rally that is held each year to coincide with the “Apple Butter Makin' Days” in Mt Vernon, MO ( We were at this rally two years ago and were walking to the Court House square when Pat twisted her ankle on a rock in the street and broke a bone in her foot. As a result we did not make it to the fun event. We plan to go today.

Yesterday I went to Colaw RV Salage ( It declares itself the largest RV Salvage yard in the US. I walked through acres of motorhomes that are being parted out. It was amazing how many were fire damaged vehicles. That is really scary. They are pretty “proud” of their parts and I came away empty handed.

Last night the hosts of this rally served a wonderful dinner of smoked ribs and chicken. Attendees brought side dishes. It sounds like we will do the same thing tonight.

When we get to the bus rallies, we are so busy having fun that I don't have time to post a blog. So, I will try to catch up a bit on things that have occurred since my last post.

In the last post, I mentioned that we were going to detour to go to a cemetery. The cemetery is located close to El Dorado Springs, MO. That was not a big detour from our direct route to Springfield. However, that detour was “interesting”. Pat had found a map of the cemetery location, and I put the coordinates in our GPS system. Looked like a pretty straight forward trip – NOT. First of all, the GPS took us on some very narrow highways. Then when we got close to the cemetery location the GPS told us to make the last turn to the left off of the narrow road we were on. Turns out that it was a very narrow, rutted dirt road. We had to continue without making the turn, but that road turned to a dirt road. We had to unhook and turn the bus around at a “T” in the road. We then drove a round about route to El Dorado Springs and left the bus in a shopping center. We were then able to drive to the cemetery in the truck. It was a neat setting and we were able to find Pat's great grandparent's graves. In addition we were able to somewhat recreate a photo she found of her grandparents standing by grave with her standing in the same location.

We then traveled to Springfield and stayed in a Wal Mart. We unhooked the truck and drove to some very long-term friends. Jack and I went to high school at roughly the same time, but did not meet until we were both working at Gates. Jack left Gates and went to work for a competitor (Dayco) but we stayed in touch. Indeed, we see them whenever we get to Springfield or when Jack and I go to Bonneville together. As usual, we had a great visit.

Tuesday we traveled to Branson for the Eagle Bus Rally. This rally has been held every other year for several years. We have been coming since 2002. It is held at the Branson Lakeside RV Park (map). I think there were 30 Eagle buses at the rally. The rally is somewhat low key. We had a barbecue dinner Tuesday evening and a pot luck dinner on Thursday evening. Wednesday evening the group split up and went to various restaurants in the Branson Landing area. We went with a group to a Mexican food restaurant that was OK, but expensive. Wednesday the group went to the afternoon Pierce Arrow show. They have an extremely funny comedian.

I have posted a couple of pictures that were taken by one of the Eagle's International members (Paul Lawry).  They were taken  from a scenic train that tours the area. 

 Branson Lakeside RV Park from a scenic train on the bridge

 View of some of the Eagle Buses.  Ours is in the lower center behind the trailer

Friday, seven of the Eagles headed in a caravan to this rally.

That is all for now.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hello from Clinton, MO

Hello from Clinton, MO

Sunday Evening October 3,, 2010 (Second travelogue of this trip).

We left Prescott today about 10:30 and arrived here about 2:30. We could have driven all the way to Springfield, MO (our next stop) today, but we decided to make this a leisurely day. However, driving thought Kansas City with narrow construction zones does not exactly meet the “leisurely” definition.

We are at a Wal Mart (map). Other than the Kansas City part of the trip, the journey went well. This is a pretty time of the year in this part of the country. The colors have not started to change yet. The prediction is that they will not be as colorful this year, because of the large amount of rain. That seems strange, since they are saying the same thing about the aspen in Colorado – except that it is the result of too little moisture.

Shortly after I wrote the last blog, the rain stopped and it warmed up quite a bit. The farmers were able to get into the fields late in the week. Bill started combining corn on Friday and we hit it hard yesterday. So, I got to help with the harvest, albeit for only two days. The yields were very spotty. In the field that we worked on yesterday the yield was about 170 bushels per acre. Not the best, but better that they expected given all of the moisture damage.

While the weather was warm during most of the week, it really cooled down yesterday. This morning our thermometer registered 31 degrees, and (our favorite weather site) reported 32 degrees.

Pat and Jeanne spent a lot of time researching genealogy. They visited a cemetery not far from Prescott and then Pat and I went to one that was close to Brooks, IA. It was a very small beautiful cemetery.

We also got to see most of the relatives. Oftentimes our visits are so hectic that we don't get to see everyone. We also had a ton of fun and ate too much -as usual.

Tomorrow we will stop in Springfield, MO to visit some good friends. On the way we will take a slight detour to visit a cemetery where some of Pat's Kretzinger relatives are buried (Judy, one of the grave is Mary Isabella Kretzinger).

That is all for now.