Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Kansas City, MO - Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - Trailside RV Park

We are spending the night at Trailside RV Park just outside of Kansas City, MO.  This is a Good Sam Park and may have gotten a good recommendation from them, but I’m not going out on that limb.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok for an overnight stop.  We are off the road, safe and have the amenities that are necessary.  It’s just not a destination I would look forward to visiting again

Monday and Tuesday nights we were at our favorite location coming through St. Louis, the RV Park at the Casino Queen casino.  On Monday night we went to the casino, had supper and made a small deposit in the penny slots before walking back home.

The Cubs were playing the Cardinals last night in St. Louis and we were able to get some pretty good seats at the last minute (for much cheaper than we could have gotten them in Chicago).  The Casino Queen has a free shuttle that takes you to the ballpark and picks you up when the game is over so we took advantage of that.

This is the first blog post I have made since May and I find I’ve almost forgotten how to do it.  Hopefully, I can summarize our busy summer in just a few paragraphs.

Our home for most of the summer was in our daughter Amanda’s second driveway.  Since we have two daughters in Markleville, this is just perfect.  I have to admit my first mistake in writing this post was to delete some really great pictures Greg took of our rig and jeep at this site.  So, I’ll have to use one I took just before a storm a month or so ago.

One of the big events while home in Indiana was our 50th high school graduation reunion.  It was great fun catching up with some old (no, strike that let’s just call them “friends from the past”).  This is just a few of us getting ready to go celebrate the 2017 class graduation ceremony.

We enjoyed meals with lots of friends and family members.  Desira treated Mom and I to lunch.

There were several breakfasts with the “girls”, always a good time!!

We were disappointed that we weren’t able to work in a visit with all of our friends in Rolling Thunder Indiana Chapter One.  You guys are still in our hearts and minds, we talk about your mission wherever we go.  God bless, ride safe and we will catch up next time.

Since everyone else was busy traveling or coming back from vacation, Greg and I volunteered to feed 27 family members for a get together.  25 years ago Greg and his family hosted a Japanese exchange student for a year.  This year she came to the United States to visit again and brought her two children with her, we spent a great week catching up with their lives.  We were glad that Robyn, Jason and Maddie could be home for this week.

We also celebrated the 70th wedding anniversary of Jack and Carol Crosley.  All of the grandkids were there except for Maddie and, surprise, none of them were making faces in this picture.

We spent two long weeks without our motor coach after we took it in to see why the check engine light was coming on.  We took it in to be checked before we left Mesa but the Cummins facility there didn’t have the necessary equipment to do a complete diagnosis.  It was a long and frustrating two weeks staying in a hotel and going back and forth to Indianapolis, mostly struggling to get our after-market warranty to pay for the over $13,000 repair that was eventually deemed to be necessary.    I’ll make it short and say that they eventually paid most of the bill through a “goodwill” settlement which required us to surrender the remaining two years of our 3 year policy which cost $5,000.

We had another small repair done that we were really pleased with – a ding in the windshield.  Safelite came to where our coach was located in Markleville, fixed the chip and it isn’t even noticeable now.

Greg swears he isn’t coming back to Indiana.  Seems every time we come back we need a major fix to the RV or to him.  This year he was in the hospital three times dealing with kidney stones that had to be “blasted”.  We found out that the diet we were following to try to promote heart heath wasn’t exactly right for people who are susceptible to kidney stones.  So, now we are working on a combination heart/kidney-healthy diet.  Right before we left he had cataract surgery on both eyes – he says it was the easiest surgery he has ever had.  I had about a three week bout of vertigo, seems to be good now.  I think most of the time we are in pretty good shape, but other times, I wonder.

The annual Shoot for a Cure was a big success again this year.  This is such a fun weekend that raises money for The Pink Ribbon Foundation.  They provide support, wigs and other items needed by people dealing with breast cancer.  This was the 7th year for this event which has raised just over $30,000 for the cause.  We are so proud of Desira and Dan for all of the hard work they do to make this come together.  Trap shooters from all over the state came together to enjoy a “pinked out” Fall Creek Valley Conservation Club.

We volunteer in the office keeping track of registration and scores.

While we were home we had some clean up/repair type chores to complete also.  We still have a 5x8 storage unit where we have a few things we just weren’t ready to part with and yet didn’t want to have them with us all the time.  I went through the unit this year and reduced again what was in there.  Greg and son-in-law Michael had to spend some time fixing the roof on our rental house.  The early spring rains caused damage to some shingles and a small leak damaged some wallboard inside.  We certainly appreciate Michael helping out with these DIY projects that always seem to come up.

Grandson Jackson played baseball this summer and we were able to catch a few of his games.  Here he is throwing out the first pitch at a Purdue game.

Desira and I spent one afternoon freezing peaches and corn.  Some of those peaches made a mighty tasty pie.

Last weekend we moved the motorcoach north to stay with AJ, Kim and the kids for a couple of days.  A spot in the side yard worked out just fine.  Jackson spent every free minute grilling papaw and I about the workings of the motor coach.  Love his curiosity.

Jackson and papaw had a serious talk about all of the bells and whistles in the Jeep.

We’ve had a great summer visiting Indiana.  We are now headed to Kansas to spend a while with David and the kids.  We need to be in Mesa, AZ by November 1 to start our workamping commitment there.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Missouri, St. Louis - Sunday, May 7, 2017 - Casino Queen RV Park

We left Memphis early Friday morning.  It was a nice day to travel except for the wind.  We were getting just 5 miles per gallon because of all the wind resistance.  When we were hauling the motorcycle on the lift we would get 8 mpg or a little over.  Since we have started pulling the Jeep a little over 7 mpg is the best we can do.

Had a little slow down coming into St. Louis.  We want to get into the campground early this afternoon because we plan on getting to the 69th Annual St. Louis Square & Round Dance Jamboree later on this evening.

It’s a good thing we waited until Friday to travel.  Our route was flooded shut on Thursday, all was good on Friday.  We did see some major flooding around Cape Girardeau, MO when we came through there, but all in all we didn’t see as much flooding as we expected.  The Mississippi River is definitely up.

I know we aren’t all the way back in Indiana yet, but I’ll go out on a limb and say our trip back this year has been pretty good.  We’ve been lucky to get into good campgrounds and avoid the really bad weather.  We haven’t had any major coach problems.  We are going to have to look for a trim piece around one of our headlights, the wind blew one off on Friday.  We heard a noise when it came off, I thought it was inside the coach and got up to see what had shifted – everything looked secure.  Greg thought the sound came from a passing tractor trailer.  When we stopped at a rest area for lunch we saw what the problem was.  We also got a ding in our windshield, a truck passing in the opposite direction threw a rock.  I could see it coming and just prayed it would only ding and not shatter.

The campground where we stay when we are in the St. Louis area is at the Casino Queen Casino which is actually in East St. Louis, IL.  If trains bother you it might not be the campground for you since one runs right next to the campground.  It does run rather late, but we stay up until midnight usually so it doesn’t create any problem for us.  Also, if you plan on staying here, don’t rely on your GPS to get you all the way here.  It will get you off the interstate correctly, but from that point on be sure to watch for the casino signs.  It is correct until it tells you to make a left turn on Continental Grain Road.  There is a right turn at a stop light to get you on the road where you can turn on Continental Grain Road that the GPS misses.  There is a casino sign for the right turn so watch for it.

We got to the Jamboree on Friday night in time to dance from 7:30 to 10:30 pm.  We went back on Saturday right after lunch to take advantage of some workshops.  We took a break to watch a workshop for round dancers.  The crowd was a little sparse here.  This room was filled with square dancers from 7:30 to 10:30 on Saturday evening.  What a great time.  They had dance halls for beginner dancers, plus dancers and advanced dancers.  We are plus dancers, which is where most people are.  The callers on Saturday were speedy callers so you really had to be paying attention.

Today we are resting, doing some laundry and watching the NASCAR race – go Dale, Jr.!!

We are leaving here Monday morning heading to Indiana.  We’ll be spending at least our first two weeks in Indiana at Timberline Campground just outside of Chesterfield.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tennessee, Memphis - Monday, May 1, 2017 - Elvis Presley's Memphis Tour

After our tour of Graceland on Monday we stopped for lunch.  Yes, I had a peanut butter and banana sandwich grilled with bacon grease – Elvis’ mom’s special sandwich.  No, it isn’t on our diet, but it was great!!

Gladys’s Diner is a 50’s style diner featuring classic American food – burgers, hot dogs, pizza and the peanut butter and banana sandwich.  The only problem with lunch is there was a musician playing and he was way too loud.

After lunch we walked through the Elvis Presley’s Memphis exhibits.  This opened this spring.  It’s over 200,000 square feet of Elvis and Rock and Roll history and of course lots of gift shops.

Lots of his cars are on display.  This 1971 De Tomaso Pantera was purchased used in 1974 for his then girlfriend, Linda Thompson for $2,400.  He once shot it because it wouldn’t start.  The holes in the steering wheel and floor pan were never fixed.

The 1955 pink Cadillac was his mother, Gladys’ favorite.

The “Mongrel T” was built for the movie “Easy Come, Easy Go” out of spare parts and a few surfboards.  After that movie the car went on to be the Jokermobile in the Batman TV series.

The 1960 MG is my favorite of the collection.  It was used in the movie “Blue Hawaii”.  Elvis gave this car to his secretary.  She later traded it in at a Memphis car lot (what was she thinking?).  A chef who had worked on Elvis’ movie “Spinout” knew about the car and purchased it for a wedding present for his daughter.

Although Elvis had a lot of big boy toys they don’t seem to be that extravagant.  He bought most of his cars used and this boat seems pretty common.

I was a little surprised to see this.  I think they said Elvis owned a farm in Missouri and one of his favorite things to do was to get out on this tractor.  It was restored by a group of high school students.

There is a lot of Elvis memorabilia on display but they don’t have the descriptions for what it is provided yet.  There has to be a good story behind this TV with what looks like a bullet hole in it.

Elvis was at the forefront of a revolution in American pop culture.  He crossed racial barriers by embracing the new sound of rock & roll, a mix of pop, country and gospel.  In June 1953, shortly after graduating from high school his journey to stardom began.  He took some time off work as a driver for Crown Electric Company to stop by Memphis Recording Studios home of Sun Records to record two songs as a birthday gift for his mother.

For the next year he stopped in every so often to Sun Records just to see what was going on.  In July 1954 Sam Phillips, the owner suggested he make a recording.  Sam picked Scotty Moore, a guitarist, and Bill Black, a bass player to accompany him.  It was pretty ho-hum until on break Elvis broke into a sped up version of a rhythm and blues tune, “That’s All Right”.  Scotty and Bill jumped in the fun.  Sam Phillips ran to hit the recorder and their first hit record was on its way.

After that the group would play at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport on Saturdays.  That is where he met Colonel Parker who become his manager.

On November 15, 1955 he officially became and RCA Victor recording artist, signing his contract in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel.  He received a $5,000 sign on bonus, something no other artist had received at the time.

In January of 1956 he recorded his first single for RCA, “Heartbreak Hotel”, it went gold by April of that year.  In the early 70’s I worked at the RCA Record Club in Indianapolis.  Elvis visited there one day but I wasn’t able to go downstairs to be part of the visitation.  I worked as secretary to the Manager of Labor Relations and we were in negotiations with the union which took precedent over Elvis.

By August of 1956 Elvis was headed to Hollywood for his first of many movies, “Love Me Tender”.  He was so unsure about what the process would be that not only did he memorize his lines, he memorized the entire script.  Lots of movie memorabilia was on display.

Embellished jumpsuits became a signature outfit for Elvis when he was performing and many of them are on display.  I think this is my favorite.

We finished up our day by looking at the customized planes.  The larger one, Lisa Marie, includes a living room, a conference room, private bedroom and two baths.  One of the baths has a 24-karat gold-flecked sink.  The planes seem to lean more to the extravagant than anything else we’ve seen today.

Everything is covered in plastic so it’s kind of hard to envision what it really looked like when Elvis traveled on it.  In the dining room Elvis always sat in the green chair at the end of the table so he could watch TV.  The guide pointed out the gold-plated seatbelts and the leather covered table.

The bed in the bedroom has a large seat belt across it.  I know this is FAA regulation but it does look really odd.

The smaller plane, Hound Dog II, is a Lockhead Jetstar.

The interior of it is much smaller than that of the Lisa Marie.

We extended our stay here because of bad weather ahead of us in Indiana but we aren’t doing any more sightseeing.  We went to get groceries this afternoon, worst Kroger store I have ever been in.  And, they don’t have Senior Day here in Memphis where seniors get 10% off the first Wednesday of the month!  We will be leaving here early Friday morning headed to St. Louis, hope they are over their flooding problems by then.  Our plan is to attend the Annual St. Louis Square Dance Jubilee which will be going on Friday night and all day Saturday.  We will rest on Sunday and head to Indiana on Monday.  Looking forward to visits with family and friends.