Saturday, August 31, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - Project Completed

Our project is complete and I think it looks great.  The pictures don’t do it justice.  In case you wonder what the little white “v” at the top of the picture is, it’s the chain from the ceiling fan.
It’s hard to see, but the ceiling that we replaced is just in front of the cabinets.  The wall behind the bed was a stripped down to a bare wall.  We applied headliner material then covered that in marine vinyl.  Then we framed the vinyl with the trim pieces we got at Home Depot today.  We are getting really good at coordinating the transport of big items on the motorcycle.  However, I don’t think we want to make a habit of it.  The last thing was to add the metal accent piece.
We are both pretty tired this evening after all of the crawling around on the floor and on the bed to get this thing finished up.  I have a feeling we’ll be sore in the morning.  The good news is we won’t have to fix breakfast.  The campground hosts are having a pancake breakfast in the morning.
If you recall we were trying to go an entire month buying groceries just one time with some supplement purchases of produce at the farmer’s market.  Well, we made it with food left over.  We last went shopping on July 31 and we won't go again until we leave here on September 6.

Friday, August 30, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Friday, August 30, 2013 - Tower Campground

Well we’ve been busy since I last posted on Monday.  Unfortunately, we haven’t been out having fun.  I mentioned a while back that we were working on finding the source of a leak we had in one of the bedroom slide outs.  We worked most of one day dismantling the inside trim to get to the basics of the slide out.  We caulked and coated where we thought might be a problem.  But, a few days later we had a leak again and it hadn’t even rained!  The water came from the air conditioning system.  Greg got on the roof and worked on the gutters to make sure the water from the air conditioning system was being diverted correctly.  Even though he got that fixed we still knew we hadn’t fixed the leak problem so we made an appointment for Tuesday at a local RV service center.

We spent most of Tuesday at the RV service center while they worked on what they thought would fix the problem.  They were able to remove the slide out awning which was too big of a job for us and found that one of the brackets that attaches the awning to the slide out hadn’t been sealed.  Since this leak had gone on for a while before we detected it, we did have some inside damage – this is what has kept us busy for the rest of the week.

On Wednesday we had a small area of vinyl ceiling on the slide out that is right above the bed that we had to take out so the wood underneath could dry out.  When we got the vinyl off we headed into town to JoAnn Fabric and got some headliner material and marine vinyl to replace what we took down.  Took us two trips to do that because I decided I wanted to put up a color other than the original white, so we brought home samples and then had to go back once we decided what we wanted.

The padded headboard we made before we moved into the coach was also damaged by the leak.  So we decided to make another one using some of the same material we decided on for the ceiling.

We also had to get a battery operated nail gun so we could put back the trim pieces we took down.  We went to Lowes and they told us what we wanted wasn’t made.  When we got home Greg went on line and found out that Home Depot had what we wanted, so we headed back to town to Home Depot.  While we were there we found the trim we wanted to use on the headboard.  We were thinking though that we would have to wait until we got to Kansas to use David’s truck to get the lumber, so we put that on hold.

I know I should have taken pictures of all of this, but we were making such a mess I didn’t feel like documenting it.  I’ll take pictures of the finished project.

On Thursday we measured the ceiling to make a pattern before we cut into our repair material.  I dug out some leftover Christmas wrapping paper which worked just fine.  Our pattern had to be seven foot long and it had two angle cuts to it so that took us a while to get just right.  We managed to get the headliner material up on the ceiling and got it covered with vinyl and it looks pretty good so far.

On Friday we went into the Sheriff’s Office to apply for our gun licenses.  We found out that we have to go back next Friday to pick them up, so we are going to have to stay here a day longer than we originally thought.

I had a vision of some type of metal decoration worked into the headboard so we went “looking” at a local furniture store and then Hobby Lobby for the perfect piece.  We found what we wanted at Hobby Lobby and decided we could figure out how to get it home on the bike, even though it was about 4 foot long by 2 foot wide.   We did get some funny looks and one lady even rolled down her window and commented on our “bike decoration”.  This thing was lying across my lap as we went down the road.  We made it without any problems so I’m thinking we may go back after the lumber.

When we got back home Greg caulked and sealed everything he could get to on the slide out before he put the trim back on.  Our repair project is looking pretty good so far.

Monday, August 26, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Monday, August 26, 2013 - Tower Campground

The past few days the weather has kept us inside in the air conditioning.  It’s in the mid to upper 90’s with 20 mph winds.  A couple of days we were at near record heat.  The Little League World Series kept us entertained.  Those young guys (ages 11-13) play really well.
We did venture out last night to square dance.  We’ve had such a good time dancing with the Shirts and Skirts and Spares and Pairs square dance clubs.  Everyone made us feel so welcome we feel like we’ve made some good friends.  We hated to say good bye to them – hope we’ll meet up again at some of the square dance conventions around the country.  If you haven’t put learning to square dance on your list of things to do, it ought to be there.  You have such a good time you don’t realize you are getting exercise.  You don’t have to have a partner to learn how to dance or to attend dances once you are ready, so everyone can have a good time.  You have to pay such close attention to the caller that there is no way your problems can bother you while you are dancing – what a stress reliever.

I was thinking this evening that I haven’t yet mentioned one of my favorite “home improvements”.
Son in law Mike built this special shelf unit to fit into the space next to my seat which is moved forward now so I can show this to you.  The shelves are angled so things don’t fall out as we go down the road, this creates little cubbyholes that are just right for my billfold, camera, sunglasses, paperback books, phone, and toll booth money – all within reach.  We have it attached to the wall with French cleats – love those things.  With the French cleats you can hang even heavy pictures without worrying that they are going to come off the wall as you move.
Oven timer just went off indicating homemade oatmeal raisin cookies are ready so I’m done with this post.

Friday, August 23, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Friday, August 23, 2013 - Bike Night

We took a picnic lunch to Falls Park and walked around for an hour or so.  Unfortunately my pictures didn’t turn out very good, the adjustment on the camera was off the setting I usually have it on and I didn’t notice it.  It was on a setting where I was supposed to be selecting the shutter speed and naturally I wasn’t doing that so they are mediocre at best.  We went up on an observation point on the opposite side of the river from where we were the last time we visited. 

I spent the afternoon experimenting with cleaners that would tackle hard water stains in the shower.  I know that Simple Green Lime and Scale Remover does a good job.  But, I’ve never found a place that sells it, I’ve always had to order it on line.  Liquid Bar Keepers Friend works well also, but once again hard to find sometimes.  I’ve used fabric softener sheets previously, but they are kind of hard to get in the tight places.  I tried white vinegar on one door and lemon juice on another.  The lemon juice does the best job and smells better!  I followed that up with the softener sheet and everything sparkles.  This method is probably “greener” also.

This evening we headed in to the Harley Davidson dealership for the 2014 Model Year Intro.  We were expecting it to be like the ones we have attended in Indiana – nope.  In Indiana they provide a large barbeque for customers – there were food vendors tonight where you could purchase your meal.  In last night’s blog I mentioned the merchandise discounts I was expecting – nope.  They were setting up for a corn on the cob eating contest but we decided to go home before things got out of hand there.

Even though it wasn’t what we were expecting, they did have a very large crowd and more were coming down the road as we left.

The new models are very nice, but we are sticking with ours that is paid for.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - Strawbale Winery

Strawbale Winery is out in the country just north of Sioux Falls.  They have been in business for seven years now and make wines from local fruits so there were lots of choices in the sweet or semi-sweet category that we prefer.  The tastings cost $5 for five choices and you get to keep the glass.  Since we were the only ones there at the time, the owner suggested we try 10 wines and split the tasting sample, so that was what we did.  She was pretty generous with the samples so it’s probably a good thing that we decided not to go to the other winery we planned on visiting today.

Strawbale has live music every Friday and a Sangria party on Sunday.  We won’t get to either of those this week.  The Friday night event lasts until after dark and the winery is located on a gravel road.  Motorcycles, gravel roads and darkness aren’t good companions and we do our best to stay safe.  On Sunday night we plan on square dancing for the last time with the friends we have met here.
It looks like they have a nice stage.  They say they have 200-400 people here every Friday night.

And the seating for sipping wine outside and enjoying the sunshine is great.
We stayed inside today and had some good conversations with the owners.  They suggested some things to do in Sioux Falls – we’ve hit about all of them.

We ended up purchasing some plum, cranberry and black current wines.  I’m a fan of plum wine with Chinese food.  Greg and I both liked the cranberry wine and neither of us liked the black current wine.  So why did we purchase it?  Well, after the tasting the owner brought out a sample of their Strawbale Black Ice.  It’s a slushy drink made of equal parts of Black Current Wine, Jose Cuervo Lime Margarita Mix and crushed ice.  Wow, is it good.

On the way back home we stopped at Harley Davidson to get some duplicate keys ordered for the bike.  Since it is our only mode of transportation, it seemed wise to have a spare set of keys.  Wouldn’t you know the 2014 models are out and they have made a lot of nice improvements – Greg was definitely interested.  The 2014 bikes had just arrived at the dealership and they didn’t even have prices on them yet.  They are having a Bike Night tomorrow night and we plan to go (just for the food and music).  At these events they usually have some good discounts on merchandise and we have been thinking about getting new rain suits.  They have some new ones out that are lightweight and are orange with reflective stripes.  That seems a much better option than the grey ones we have now.

I forgot to mention in my post last night that we finally thawed the wonderful shrimp our friends Barbara and Anne brought us before we left Indiana.  I even made their recipe for Shrimp ‘n Bread.  It is so good but definitely something you don’t want to make very often since it has two sticks of butter in it.

I worked on the recipe scanning project some more yesterday and as I was going through some of my old recipes I came across a copy of one that came from my mom.  She mentioned a few months ago that she used to have a really good banana cake recipe but she didn’t know what had happened to it – I think this might be it.  If not, it still sounds pretty good.

Banana Cake

Use your favorite white cake mix.  Follow directions on package.  Fold in 1 cup banana pulp.  Bake about 5 minutes longer than time specified on cake mix package.

Banana Filling & Icing

1 c. whipping cream

½ c. confectioners’ sugar

1 c. banana pulp

½ tsp. vanilla

Few grains salt

Beat cream until stiff and add sugar.  Fold in banana pulp, vanilla and salt.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - Tower Campground

The plan today was to go to one of the local wineries.  But that didn’t work out as the weather was either light rain or threatening light rain all day.  In between showers we did get out to pick up some produce at the grocery, get a prescription filled and pick up our mail.

The local grocery stores are Hy Vee stores.  I understand they are employee owned.  These stores are really impressive, they have a lot of people working and everything is displayed beautifully.  People are always asking if you have found what you need and they are so clean they just sparkle.  We went in for just a few things today, but walked around for a while admiring the store.

Had a good prescription refill at Walgreens again today.  Their prescription savings card is a good deal too.  It doesn’t cost anything, but if you don’t have a prescription drug plan it can save you a lot of money.  The health insurance plan we chose for me for this year until I can go on Medicare doesn’t have a prescription plan, but with the Walgreens card I don’t really see any difference in cost from when I did have a prescription plan.

We’ve noticed a couple of things that are different in South Dakota (vs. Indiana) that make us even more convinced we don’t want to be here in winter.  There are arms (like railroad crossing arms) that come down across the highways to close them when there is bad weather.  The fire hydrants have about a four foot high red bar attached to them so they can find them in the snow.

One thing that is a puzzle to me – unleaded gasoline is $3.67 a gallon, super unleaded is $.30 a gallon cheaper at $3.37.  Isn’t the super stuff usually more expensive?  I originally thought somebody made a mistake on the sign, but it’s advertised all over town like that.

We met with an attorney yesterday to get some advice on whether or not the wills we had drawn up in Indiana needed to be replaced with wills drawn up in South Dakota.  Basically, he said that unless we had a huge estate and there was going to be fighting about who got what, the Indiana wills were fine.  Since we plan on having a good time and spending any inheritance we decided to stick with the Indiana wills.  I was surprised that when we got ready to leave he told us we didn’t owe him anything for his time – he said he didn’t do anything.  We talked with him for a good while and he answered a lot of questions for us.  This wasn’t a little storefront office, he was with a large law firm.

Monday, August 19, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Monday, August 19, 2013 - Sherman and Sertoma Parks

Sherman Park is just down the road from the RV park where we are staying.  Its 205 acres house the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History, the USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial, the South Dakota Hall of Fame, Indian Burial Mounds and nine softball diamonds.
Today we visited the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History.  We were really impressed with both facilities.  They are part of the parks department and someone puts a lot of thought and time into the natural environments for the animals and the realistic displays at the museum.

My favorites at the zoo were:
The Rare Rhinos of Africa.  The two Rhinos are a new part of the zoo.  They are huge!
Giraffes and zebras.  Did you know that giraffes have seven vertebrae in their necks just like humans, they are just bigger.
Galapagos tortoise are native to the volcanic Galapagos Islands off the west coast of Ecuador.  They can live to be 200 years old and can weigh up to 600 pounds.  There were four of them at the zoo, they looked like big boulders sitting in the grass.  All of them were grazing very slowly.  They are listed as an endangered species.
The penguins were just hanging out around the cool air ducts today.

Everyone wanted to hang out in the shade, except this big alligator.  I tried to get Greg to do something to provoke him so he would open his mouth.  As you can see that didn’t happen.

The King Vultures have beautiful color.  I was taking a picture of this one
Then the other one flew up like he wanted his picture taken too.

Peacocks were roaming the grounds, this one had babies.
Attached to the zoo is the Delbridge Museum of Natural History.  There are displays from several of the continents.  The batteries on my camera were getting low and we left the extra batteries in the bike so I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked.  There is a collection of 150 mounted animals, including 36 “vanishing species”.  Many of the displays have been constructed to look like the animals natural habitat.

We stopped to have lunch that we brought from home.  I made enough pasta salad yesterday to feed an army.
Our next stop was Sertoma Park which is home to the Game, Fish and Parks Department, the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove and the Outdoor Campus where kids can learn about nature through hands on classes and by exploring the nearby walking trails and ponds.

The Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove had lots of flowers and milkweed in their gardens outside to attract monarch butterflies.
The Marine Cove had several large aquariums – I liked these guys but I forgot to write down what they were, I think they are Lion Fish.  Also, see the Rock Fish on the back wall by the grate – the sign said it was the most poisonous fish in the world its sting can kill an elephant.  It just looks like an ordinary rock, it didn’t say where you find these things – just one more reason to stay out of the water.

The Butterfly House is a tropical conservatory with 800 free-flying exotic butterflies.  Before we went in the sign said if a butterfly lands on you “give it a ride”.  Just after we entered we met this guy who is one of the guides – I almost left right then.  A butterfly landing on me is one thing but if the things that could land on you in here included this thing, I was gone.

As it turned out it was his and the only one there, but I didn’t stick around to talk to him for very long.

Butterflies were everywhere
They also had some tiny Button Quail running round.  When they are full grown they are only about the size of baby chicks.

We stopped in briefly at the Outdoor Campus.  It is similar to Kids Commons in Columbus, IN with an outdoor theme.  Instead of going into the world’s largest toilet, the kids could go into this huge fish.
The temperature here today is 85 and visiting the parks was a great way to spend the morning and early afternoon.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Saturday, August 17, 2013 - Tower Campground

We decided not to go to the farmer’s market at Falls Park this morning.  They were having a Heart Walk at the park starting at 8:00 so we figured it was going to be pretty congested.  We went downtown to the Sioux Empire Farmers Market.  Boy, did we get spoiled last month when we went to some really great markets in Washington, DC and Maggie Valley, NC.  The market downtown had one vegetable booth, and about eight craft booths.  We bought some tomatoes and cucumbers and headed for the grocery store for the rest of our produce.

We probably aren’t going to get too energetic this afternoon.  We steam cleaned the floors yesterday, that was one of the last big inside cleaning projects for a while.  I usually just use the Swiffer sweeper on them even though we have a central vacuum.  Using the central vacuum with its long hose is like trying to wrestle a very long snake, but I got it out yesterday and gave everything a good cleaning.

Tonight we are going to square dance again with the Shirts & Skirts square dance club here in town.  The weather is supposed to start warming up so maybe we’ll have some new pictures to post soon.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - Tower Campground

I’m sitting here trying to think of something I did today.  Seems the whole day got away from me and I didn’t do anything really productive.  The weather here was in the low 60’s and overcast with a breeze all day – just didn’t make us feel like getting out on the bike or even sitting outside.

I wanted to fix a pork roast so I would have pulled pork for enchiladas and some other dish yet to be determined.  Normally, I would have just put it in the crock pot and not given it another thought.  But, last night I read that you should have your crock pot at least half full and no more than two thirds full.  So, I decided to do it “right” today.  But, the large crock pot was too big and I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to put in with the pork and the small crock pot was too little.  I decided to roast it – bad move, I shouldn’t have overthought the crock pot issue.  I don’t know if it was the convection oven or user error, but it took forever to cook, didn’t brown and I thought it ended up tough.  It was ok by the time I simmered it in seasoning for the enchiladas tonight.

Had something unusual happen today.  There are several kids in the campgrounds that ride their bikes and non-motorized scooters (the kind that you push with your foot).  We are on a bit of a hill so they can get them going pretty fast.  We were sitting inside this afternoon and heard a bump to the front of the coach and looked out the front window.  We had been hit head on by a small boy on a scooter.  Didn’t leave a mark on us, but I’m not sure about him.  He was up and gone before we got out of the coach.

I worked quite a bit on the recipe scanning project and looked through brochures on Sioux Falls to pick out some things to do in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - Sioux Falls Regional Airport

This was a beautiful day to get out on the bike.  Our first stop was the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.  They had some WWII airplanes on display there today.  They are trying to raise enough money to buy an airplane to refurbish to be on permanent display at the airport.  Last night they had a fund raiser and some planes from the national Commemorative Air Force group came in to help.
This is an L-5B Sentinel.  They were used for delivering personnel and supplies to the front line.  They allowed commanders to observe the battlefield.  There are 150 of them flying today.  They flew in WWII and Korea.  It’s a small plane weighing only 2000# fully loaded.

The pilot came out while we were looking at the plane and showed us something that he said the general public wouldn’t be able to see.  He opened up two of the panels on the side of the plane to show the area where they could transport one wounded person.

The next plane we looked at was a B-17 bomber named “Diamond Lil”.
I found it interesting that the tail gunner would sit in this sling on a moving airplane and try to hit enemy fighter planes coming at them from all directions.  I’m amazed they were able to hit anything.

They had a replica camp set up.  The three garbage cans held water heaters, we assumed for washing dishes. 

Don’t you wonder if the bread was baked in this stove?

Greg was in the Air Force Reserves, he tells me bombs were transported the same way in Viet Nam.

This P-51 fighter plane would have been one of the planes that escorted the larger bombers.

They were offering rides on this plane, note the price $1,995 – we didn’t participate.

The “Fifi” is a B-29 Superfortress bomber.  It saw service in WWII and Korea.  It entered service in April, 1944.  It was retired in the 1960’s.  Approximately four thousand were produced during WWII, 25 remain today with only one being airworthy (we assumed it is this one).

These planes could only carry twelve bombs, so a lot of planes were needed to make an impact. 

This is the tunnel that runs above the bombs for the crew to move from the front of the plane to the back.
This is a shot of the cockpit.  See where the guy is sitting to the right – he is the engineer.  Right in front of where I am standing to take this picture there is a hole in the bottom of the plane to exit by a very steep narrow ladder.  The engineer said you could get a good picture of his gauges by standing on the first rung of the ladder and resting your butt up against the opposite side of the hole.  Notice that there are no pictures of all his gauges.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend the morning.  I’ve never seen old warplanes that up close – very interesting, especially since Greg was able to tell me about what I was seeing.
From the airport we went to pick up our mail at Alternative Resources.  We had a part coming in for our Sirius radio hook up.  The people at Alternative Resources have been helping us get through the process of establishing our South Dakota residency.  We needed to get a recommendation from them for an attorney to see to talk to about our Indiana wills.  Need to know if we need to change them to South Dakota since that is now our state of domicile.  We did receive our invitation to our great grandson's first birthday party.  Hard to imagine he is that old already.

Red Lobster was our lunch stop – it will be chef salads for supper tonight!

We went by a World Market the last time we were out.  I mentioned that I like to go there just to look around, so we stopped in today.  Of all the exotic and different things we could have bought there, we bought a skillet.  I did look for some good vanilla, but they didn’t have what I wanted.

Back home, I’ve started on the recipe scanning project.  I have a lot of recipes, this may take until the end of the year.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - Tower Campground

We got a lot of rain here last night and we ended up with a small leak in the bedroom slide out.  We brought the slide out in for the night and took a look at it this morning.  Just like in a house, it’s hard to tell just exactly where a leak originates.  We got on the bike and went after repair supplies and Greg spent a couple of hours today putting waterproofing where we thought there might be a problem.

Tonight we went square dancing again, this time with the Spares & Pairs club. The caller was Dean Dedeman, he did a really good job. They are a great bunch of people, we had a great time.

Friday, August 9, 2013

South Dakota, Sioux Falls - Friday, August 9, 2013 - Tower Campground

Yesterday we stuck around home, Greg worked on cleaning the outside of the coach and I cooked most of the day.  I made some chocolate chip cookies, the recipe said the “best” chocolate chip cookie recipe.  They are good, but I don’t think they are the “best”.  I didn’t think I would ever say this, but I think they have too many chocolate chips.
Next I decided to make some yeast rolls.  I don’t have a stand mixer anymore and I wasn’t sure how the hand mixer would handle it even though it has a bread hook.  These rolls are the first thing that I have noticed cooked differently in the convection oven as opposed to a regular oven.  They normally take 20-25 minutes, these took 14 and I probably could have taken them out at 12 or 13 minutes, I just couldn’t believe they were done.

I cooked a chicken in the crock pot on Wednesday.  So, I decided to make chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes for supper.  Kind of ironic that with all of the things I made from scratch (even peeled and mashed the potatoes) I ended up using frozen noodles – I hate making noodles.
Today, we treated ourselves to lunch at Cracker Barrel (used the gift card my former co-workers got me when I retired).  We haven’t eaten at Cracker Barrel since we left Indiana, it was pretty good.  After that we went to see a new movie, “We’re the Millers”.  It’s about a small time drug dealer who takes a job doing a big drug smuggling job from Mexico.  He decides he would be more likely to get across the border unquestioned if he was in an RV with his “family”.  He recruits his neighbor (Jennifer Aniston) as his wife and a couple of homeless teens as his kids.  It was pretty funny.