|June 9, 2004, Wednes. (246 miles today, 6856 steps). Leave Ocala after
the Ocala Shakers (Parkinson's support group) picnic at beautiful Sholom
Park near Top of the World (257 pictures). Got there before noon to take
pictures with the camera I just picked up at Cameo Camera after they
managed to get a special pickup. I just missed buying the camera last
Sunday – a man was walking out of the store after just purchasing the last
one in stock – a Kodak DX6490 with 10X zoom. This was a replacement for my
Sony Mavica. Went home to finish packing and left Ocala at 2:45 pm. Heavy
rain in northern Florida. Lowest price seen in GA was $1.75. Arrived at
Southern Trails (Coast to Coast home park) in Umadilla, GA, at 6:45 pm.
Downloaded pictures from picnic. No need for air conditioner, just opened
windows and used fan. Had a refreshing shower in the immaculate restroom
and then enjoyed shrimp cocktail and cheese with crackers tonight.
June 10, Thurs. (166 miles, 6588 steps, 105 pictures) Left at 8:30 am after taking pictures of Westy and campground. Arrived Red Top Mountain State Park, Cartersville, Georgia, $16.40 camp fee. The park ranger said he has a friend living in Ocala and he wants to visit him someday because he heard so many good things about Ocala. The guy's father's birthday is June 19 (same as John's). Campsites had water, electric and cable TV with 12 channels. Thought about using the bicycle, but there are so many steep hills here, just used my cane.
|June 11, Fri. (294 miles, 4644 steps, 131 pictures) Up at 7 am and
left at 8 am. Stopped at Tennessee welcome center at 9:45 am. At
Manchester, TN, encountered miles of cars and other vehicles parked along
the shoulder of the I-24 and adjoining roads. I think it was a golf
tournament nearby. There were people in tents, on top of vehicle roofs,
all over the place. I got behind a big semi and followed it in the outside
lane all the way through the congestion.
Diamond Caverns Resort, Park City. Since I did not make reservations through Coast to Coast for $8 per night, I was charged $12. Swim and Jacuzzi. Decided to drink the Nestle strawberry milkshake. It was delicious, but I put it on the fold down table and it slipped off, hit the floor, and squirted all over the place and on the carpet and my pillow. I mopped most of it up, but now the van smells like strawberry. I had a strawberry daiquiri cooler instead. The activities director was setting up the pavilion for a 1950's bash tomorrow with a lot of pictures of old-time singers like Elvis and Anka. I went swimming until dark watching bats fly over the water. Then Jacuzzi for 10 minutes again, cooling off shower, and back to Westy. Changed all the clocks to Central time. Ronald Reagan's funeral today. Watched part this morning before leaving Georgia and the California part tonight on TV with the rabbit ears.
laptop in Westy
|June 12, Sat. (335 miles, 9123 steps, 112 pictures) After a Cream of
Wheat breakfast, encountered a detour after deciding to drive through part
of Mammoth Cave National Park. The road was completely barricaded and I
took the detour and arrived at the entrance road to Mammoth Cave. I saw a
wild turkey hen with a bunch of babies walking along the side of the road.
Stopped at a souvenir shop and found another route but still got lost back
on I-65. Checked at a gas station and the lady asked me if I wanted to
take a ferry but thought it simpler to go back to I-65 South and pick up a
toll road and then another toll road - the Audubon Parkway - back to the
Pennyrile and finally US 41 in Evansville, Indiana. Somewhere on the first
toll road, the laptop got disconnected from power and the GPS log ended
there. The PC turned off by itself when the battery got low and I had no
rest areas or stops to check the problem. After I reconnected it, the PC
recharged, but I think I lost that part of the log. When I took the
bypass, the sky ahead was pitch black. I kept watching for tornado
formations, but then the rains came – and lightning and wind. Temp went
down to 71 degrees from 88. This rain went on for miles. The rain finally
slowed down before I came to the turnoff.
A lot of construction through the city, but I arrived at Kickapoo State Park at 2 pm. Campsite in Brian Plawer campground was $15 cash with no senior discount on weekends. The sound of the cicadas was tremendous. The boat rental was moved from Long Lake (which is really muddy looking, almost as bad as the river) to Clear Lake on the other side of the road. After inspecting the two shower facilities, took bath in Westy using disposable washcloths.
June 13, Sun. (136 miles, 11,390 steps) Two cardinals woke me up at 6 am while they fighting images in the rear view mirrors on Westy. Took Route 49 through Cessna Park, the route we always took on our canoe trips. The GPS steered me through all the byways. On Route 53, I noticed the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie sign and building, so drove back to visit. Drove through Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and discovered a Florence L. Gawenda interred there. Got to Leisure Lake RV resort at 11 am. $160 rental for one week/7 nights. The Dutchman trailer was cleaned and ready to move in, the same trailer John and I had last September. Unloaded the van and took a shower. The hot water was all set. Daughter Val, her husband Larry, and Peri (from Texas) got here at 5 pm, just after I took a bike ride to the entrance to fill out forms for visitors. Got to meet Peri and immediately fell in love with her. Took pictures of her in the lake. Phoned relatives for visits during the week. We got fried chicken and salads at the Jewel Food Store and had dinner at the trailer. Peri gets to sleep in the Westy at night since pets are not allowed in rentals; Val and Larry slept in the trailer.
June 14, Mon. (Flag Day, 4878 steps) Up before 6 when someone was walking down the road and Peri growled and barked. Went back to sleep until Val came to the van where we played with the dog and took pictures. After that we had a thunderstorm with quite a bit of rain. Put up the 6x6 self-supporting screen house where we sat enjoying the wind blowing through until the sun got a little lower. Val found several 4-leaf clovers in the grass while sitting there and even found a 5-leaf clover later. Then went swimming in the lake; the pool is closed on Mondays.
Val and Peri in screenroom
Leisure Lake campsite
|June 15, Tues. 64.3° at 6 am (10,801 steps) In the morning, before we
left for visiting relatives, Val and I walked partway around the fishing
lake. The large carp were spawning with big splashes all over the lake,
and some of the fish even came right up by shore where we were. It looked
pretty neat. At Rich and Carol's house, Peri especially loved their
backyard pool, since it had only about a foot or two of water in the
shallow areas because of leaks. She spent several happy moments running
through the water, grabbing at leaves, and soaking up the coolness. Swim
in park pool later in the day.
June 16, Wednes. (5420 steps). Visit more relatives during the day. Coming from Wisconsin, after a 400 mile trip, Vicky, Tom, and kids (Lucas - age 5, Isabella - 2, and Amie - 6 months) arrived about 11 pm. Val, Larry and Peri checked into a nearby hotel because Tom and Vic's family will be using the trailer. I missed playing with Peri in the Westy that night.
June 17, Thurs. (6780 steps, 238 pics) This was the day for the inurnment at 11 am and funeral lunch in honor of John. We went to the VFW Cantigny Post #367 early to deliver some food and set up a table with albums and other things and had just enough time to get back to the RV park, get Vic's kids dressed and get ourselves out to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery south of Joliet. When we got to the cemetery, there was a long line of cars waiting and we went to the head of it because we had the urn with John's ashes. The veteran's ceremony was impressive, with a 3 gun salute, the folding of the flag, a short tribute, and taps. After the military part, Val played "Amazing Grace" and Schubert's "Ave Maria" on flute, then the 40 or so folks there stood around and talked.
Drove back to the VFW where a big feast was being prepared, partly by the post and partly of dishes brought by us and others. There was ample conversation, photo taking, and food. Then to Carol and Rich's house, which was only a couple blocks away. Instead of just dropping off the crock pots and some extra nut rolls, ended up visiting for 2 hours. Finally got back to the trailer and went swimming.
Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery
|June 18, Fri. 56.3° at 6 am. (7319 steps). This morning, Larry and Tom
drove Val's car to Wisconsin since Tom had to get back to work. The rest
of us went to Pilcher Park in Joliet to see the greenhouse conservatory
which was partly under construction, but the gardens and the rest of the
building were very interesting. Then to the Nature Center where the kids
had plenty to keep them occupied and enjoyed looking at the turtles and
fish. Later, back to the trailer, lunch, and swimming. About an hour later
the pool and lake were closed due to the cool and drizzly weather. Back to
the VFW for their famous Friday fish dinner and had scrumptious fish and
shrimp. That night, Val and Peri slept in the Westy with me to allow Vicky
to have a bed to herself for once.
June 19, Sat. (John's BD; our 50th anniversary) (426 miles, 6433 steps, 363 pics) John's memorial in Joliet Herald News. After packing both vans, we got a fairly early start on our trip to Wisconsin. Since we were traveling with 2 vehicles, made frequent stops to coordinate our route and for breaks. On the way we stopped near Baraboo at a junkyard called "Delaney's" that is rather famous for the fantastic sculptures the owner has made out of junk. These sculptures really are mesmerizing, with strange birds, fanciful monsters, and robot-like humanoids. There are also giant insects, music instruments, and structures that look like fantasy castles. It is all set in several acres of field and trees. Arrived in Turtle Lake around 7 PM. Peri took quite awhile to get acquainted with Vicky's 4 huge Rhodesian Ridgebacks, T, Tiyeni, Tentha, and Chief.
Val and Peri in Westy
Peri with the big dogs
|June 20, Sun. (Father's Day, 57° at 8 am, 9092 steps, 397 pics) In a
rather amusing surprise, found out that Tom had been to an auction
yesterday and had purchased some horses. Tom and Vicky already own one
horse and were planning on moving it to the new farm as soon as fences
were mended. Vicky has mentioned that they needed to buy another horse to
keep their old one company once he was moved from his boarding stable.
Well, Tom bought a whole herd!
We went this morning to see 5 of them unloaded at their temporary home. There was a team of small horses and, just like one would expect, they were inseparable. Another horse was the sister of one of the team members and had the same beautiful pinto spots. The other two horses were a mare and her colt. The mare was half Belgian and half saddlebred, while the colt's father was a purebred Belgian. Needless to say, the colt looked just like a draft horse and will obviously get bigger than his mother. We also learned that Tom bought two more ponies, both of which were with foal and were staying in their original location to be rebred. They now have a herd of 10 horses, with 2 more pending.
As if we didn't have enough of animals, after lunch we headed to the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul. It was a nice little zoo, free admission, and also had a marvelous greenhouse conservatory and Japanese garden. After we finished at the zoo, gardens, and the carnival rides for the kids, we ate dinner at Famous Dave's. Delicious food and a fun, family atmosphere. On the way home, we stopped so Tom could buy several hundred dollars worth of fireworks for a July 4th party. He does this every year. We had so much stuff, and the van already had 8 people riding, that we had to put the stroller on top with bungie cords.
Arnold and Nellie
some of the other horses
West family at zoo
zoo in Minnesota
|June 21, Mon. (56.5° at 5:15 am, 10,660 steps) Made a short trip out to the new farm yesterday morning, but barely got a chance to see the outbuildings and the fields and woods. Today, we spent much of the time out there, mostly cleaning and also moving stuff out of storage and into their basement and sheds. The West Farm consists of 268 acres, with a view of a large lake (their property doesn't quite go all the way to the water, but there is public land in between). Their land includes several silos, a large barn, numerous smaller sheds, a big farm house, gardens and fields, forests, a duck pond and a small swampy pond. There is much to see and it is gorgeous. The road into their property goes under an arched tunnel; above is the Wisconsin Ice Age Trail used as snowmobile trail. Vicky and Val went to a municipal band practice at the local high school, Val with her clarinet and Vicky with her bassoon.|
The West Farm
Westy at West Farm
|June 22, Tues. (50.5° at 6 am, 355 pics, 13,306 steps) Val and Larry's
19th wedding anniversary. They agreed to celebrate once they got back to
Texas since they were so busy with other things on this trip. In the
morning, Val and I went for a long walk around the farm. Peri made full
use of the muddy swamp at the base of one hill. She looked just like a
little water buffalo, wallowing in the muck and mud, submerged up to her
head. The walk was very interesting, and we saw some deer and turkeys, as
well as plenty of wee beasties like spiders and bugs. The vegetation is
diverse, with some pine groves, hardwoods, fields both cultivated and not,
and scrubby areas. There is a very old abandoned silo rather far from the
other buildings and Val climbed up to the top, which gave her a nice view
of the surrounding land.
Later in the day, Vicky and the kids arrived and we began clearing the hayloft in the barn to ready it for a supply of fresh hay for the horses. The old stuff is mostly dry and produces a lot of dust, but we made good progress in clearing out the huge area. We then moved the hay on a wagon to near Vicky's veggie gardens to be used as mulch.
In the evening, we went over to see the 5 horses being boarded at the stable so that Tom could give them some vaccinations. This was interesting to watch, especially since the large mostly Belgian colt had never had a halter on. While only a month old, he is bigger than any one person can handle and it took some maneuvering and outwitting to corner the feisty beast. Appropriately, the colt's name is Arnold. His mother's name is the typical cliché Nellie. The other three horses (paints) are named Patches, Scar, and Tacoma. I moved the Westy to the farm and tonight Val almost decided to stay out there with me. The house is mostly empty but does have water and electricity. It is delightfully quiet out here. I worked in garden alone from 5 to 9 pm.
Lucas and Val in hayloft
Peri in pool of mud
|June 23, Wednes. (51.6° at 5:30 am, 3 pics, lost pedometer in
haystacks in the garden with 3738 steps +???) In the morning, I worked in
the garden, making tomato plant cages, and weeding. Vicky and Val came out
to the farm after lunch for more hay pitching and garden work. We were
interrupted by a thunderstorm and downpour, after which the temperature
cooled off even more from the already pleasantly brisk wind. One of the
highlights for Lucas today was his receiving my old digital camera, a
rather large Sony that uses floppy disks for memory. However, the controls
are reasonably simple and in no time Lucas was taking pretty well composed
photos of his toys, sisters, and the dogs.
June 24, Thurs. (49.3° at 6:45 am, 375 pics) Val and I took a break from farm work and went to the Minnesota Zoo in St. Paul. It was a gorgeous day and we spent all of it at the zoo, strolling around leisurely and enjoying the animals. One highlight was the Mexican wolf exhibit. Since the animals are very endangered, this zoo is one of the captive breeding program and they had 2 sizeable packs, both of which had pups. While we were watching, one mother went down in a dirt den and came back out with 3 adorable little babies scrambling to suckle. The audience was treated to at least 15 minutes of play and feeding before the animals retreated farther from the viewing area.
Due to our late departure and delays where there was bridge construction, we didn't get back to the farm until around 7:30 and were surprised to see everyone still at the farm. Vicky had made turkey and dressing for dinner but Tom was on a call and we had not returned, so there were not many people present to enjoy the feast. We did enjoy reheated food when we finally got back to the house.
June 25, Fri. (50.2° at 6 am, 185 pics) The project at the farm for the morning was to measure and mark the areas that needed fencing for the horses and cattle that would eventually reside on the land. Vicky paced off various areas and wrote down details. By now, Peri and Tiyeni, who are about one month apart in age, have become good friends and enjoy playing. The two pups spent at least two hours racing around in the tall grass and wallowing in the mud. While the mud and muck just slide off the short-haired dogs, Peri was pretty much plastered with a layer of black stinky goop by the time they got back. Found my pedometer in a haystack in the garden. It was laying right on top of the straw, and it still works.
This evening we had a fire out at the farm and the kids roasted marshmallows while we watched the deer in the fields. Before the sun set, Val climbed up the biggest silo for the view and pictures which looked like aerial photos. Tom had brought along some fireworks for a little Independence Day preview and began setting them off as the sun went down. Peri seemed to handle it all very well until there was a particularly loud and numerous barrage of shots from one of the bigger shells. At the moment Val was experimenting with time-lapse photography and was balancing the camera on a chair, Peri panicked and yanked her leash as she ran to hide under some lawn chairs. In the chaos, she had at least one chair fall on her and Val got whacked on the head, possibly with her camera. Once the dog was untangled and Val recovered, Larry took the shivering mutt into the van so that she could settle down.
June 26, Sat. (48 pics) This morning's project was to cut some of the weeds from around the fence so that it would be possible to repair and replace parts. Vicky and Val had 2 weed whackers and some hand tools. Eventually, we did get some of the 7-foot grass, large raspberry plants, and 5-foot burdock hacked down. I used a saw and loppers to cut branches. Lost my pedometer again. This time I didn't think I could ever find it in all the weeds and branches. In all, quite a tiring morning.
June 27, Sun. (46 pics) Several trips were made moving stuff from a rented storage unit to the farm. Tom bought some of the fencing materials and later, Vic, Val and I unloaded piles of metal fence posts, lumber, and super-heavy rolls of barbed wire (1/4 mile on each roll). It took two of us to carry each roll of wire, after putting a large metal pipe through the center to act as a handle. During this exercise, my leather-gloved right thumb got caught between the rolls and I ended up with a nasty blood blister which took several weeks to heal. As if we didn't do enough hard labor, in the afternoon we moved some larger things out of the storage unit, including some beds and some huge frames to hold lumber in a shed.
On one of the last trips we made out to the farm, Val noticed a large dead animal along the road in someone's front yard. Remembering that there was a report in the news awhile back about a black bear being hit around there, we guessed that was it. On the next pass, we confirmed that it was indeed a bear so, when we were done with stuff out at the farm, we stopped by to see if the property owner really wanted the dead bear or perhaps Val could get the skull, or at least take photos. Turned out that the land owner didn't want to mess with the carcass because it stank too bad but also thought he might like the teeth and so wasn't ready to give it up. Too bad. The lower jaw was broken, but the skull appeared to be intact. A quick look told us it was an older bear, probably a female because of the small size. Val took a few pictures and we headed home. It was nice to know that there is more wildlife than just the deer and rabbits we kept seeing.
June 28, Mon. (54° at 7:30 am, 46 pics) Val, Larry, and Peri left for Texas. Vicky was back on her job at the turkey farm to work mornings this week. I rode my 3-speed bike for about 3 miles on the Ice Age Trail from the farm into the town to meet Lucas at his day-care center. We went to the playground in town and awaited the arrival of Vicky. The bike and I got a ride back to farm. Today a load of bales of hay were moved into the upper loft of the barn. Vicky loaded the conveyer and Tom stacked the 149 bales in the loft.
June 29, Tues. (64° at 8:30 am; 146 pics) Used the electric bike on the road just on the farm acreage. After going down into the valley and up the steep hill to the far side of the farm, I had to come back down the steep hill. It was very scary, but I made it, putting over 2 miles on the bike. Another load of bales came in and I helped unload the trailer - total 290 bales.
June 30, Wednes. (64° at 7:30 am; 73 pics) Concert in park in the town of Turtle Lake tonight.
|July 1-3, Thurs. - Sat. (temp continued at low 60's every morning)
Spent most of my time gardening, weeding, trimming. Saturday it rained in
the evening. 15,990 steps on my new pedometer. |
July 4, Sun. (Independence Day, 53 pics) Fireworks tonight at the farm. We watched the light show from a vantage point above the lake and surrounding towns. It looked like at least a dozen homes on the lake were having fireworks displays. 15,495 steps.
July 5, Mon. (58.8° at 5:45 am, 33 pics, 12,922 steps)
July 6, Tues. (54.7° at 5:45 am) (430 miles, 6262 steps) Getting colder every morning. Time to leave Wisconsin and the West farm. Vicky and the kids came to the farm for pictures and to say goodbye, and gave me several donuts and rolls for breakfast for the following days. Left at 8:00 am. Arrived at Carol and Rich's house in Joliet at 4:15 pm.
concert in Turtle Lake
|July 7, Wednes. (268 miles, 106 pics for Tues and Wednes, 6262 steps)
Left Joliet and stopped at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery to take
pictures of John's niche in the columbarium. Hickory Shores RV Resort in
Lake Carlyle, IL, is no longer Coast to Coast, so drove on to Eldon Hazlet
State Park, Illini Campground. $15 camping fee.
July 8, Thurs. (309 miles, 1298 steps) Enjoying the rolls Vicky gave me, one each morning. Camped at Big Buck RV Resort, Hornsby, TN, 800 points ($8), swim in pool, bike on blacktop roads. 85.8° at 8:00 pm, it is warm again.
July 9, Fri. (406 miles, 4637 steps) Camped at Holley-King RV Resort, DeFuniak Springs, FL.
July 10, Sat. (309 miles) Arrived back home in Ocala at 1:30 pm, 3328.5 total miles. Enjoyed a swim in OEV pool.
July 11, Sun. On Monday, start newspaper, pick up mail, bowling, and another thunderstorm. And so ends another trip in the Westy with many memories and pictures.