Unfortunately, I am, once again, WAY behind in blogging. We are just so busy with PTB that blogging has become a chore and after much contemplation I have decided to stop.
After 7+ years and many miles traveled…I want to thank all of you for your kindness over the years. It has been so wonderful to be somewhere and have one of you stop me and say ‘I read your blog’! I had no idea I had so many followers and meeting you all in person has been the cherry on top.
I started blogging to keep our sons and their families informed of our adventures and we have been blessed to add so many of your to our ever growing family.
I am hoping to keep people abreast of our travels via posts on Facebook every now and again. If you are not one of my Facebook friends but would like to continue to follow us (and say ‘hey’ when we’re in your area) please friend me on Facebook – Kelly Evans Barnett.
PS….my sons, their wives and Michael are all learning this right along with you….didn’t want them to try and talk me out of it again. 🙂
We arrived safe and sound at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds just before noon. We got backed into site 182 (same site we were in last summer) and then visited with some of the neighbors for a short while before heading back to our place to continue setting up.
Happy 34th to us!
It happened to be our 34th wedding anniversary so went out to dinner at Heinnie’s Back Barn in Elkhart. They do a real nice steak, plus their salad and soup is always really good…and BIG portions. We both ordered the filet and shrimp with soup and salad. Very good.
Beletti’s, Jess’, Yocum/Hancock’s and 1/2 of the Wolbeck’s
Just as we were finishing our meal, a group of our Heartland friends (Jim & Nancy, Jared & Rhonda, Kevin and Dave & Julie) so we visited with them for a short while before heading home.
Set up and ready to go!
We were able to register as vendors and set up our booth in the vendor hall. We had expected it to be a much larger rally and were surprised to find out that there were only about 100 rigs registered. Sadly, it was also pretty unorganized…no prior information, no communication at all beforehand.
This is how dead it was all week
Our vendor booth hours were 10-3 on Monday and it was a long day/week. Tuesday and Wednesday were 9-3 and that extra hour was painful. All of the vendors were disappointed in the lack of customers…very few sales and/or browsing even.
Thursday hours were 9-1 but several of the vendors packed up and left on Wednesday. We didn’t open up. Michael just went in and packed up while I stayed home and worked. Thankfully, our business doesn’t souly rely on rallies as many of the other vendors do.
In our overnight spot
We had an appointment to have Independent Suspension (IS) put on our trailer on Tuesday 5/28. So Monday afternoon Michael hitched the trailer up and took it over to Morryde (about 10 miles away)…backing into one of their ‘sites’ where we’d spend the night.
After he was back from dropping off the coach we hung out in the vendor hall until dinner was served at 5:15 pm. We sat with several of the other vendors and enjoyed the meal of pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, baked beans and muffins. The Passport America group cooks all of their own meals…and it wasn’t bad.
Michael was scared…I had to calm his fears
We left shortly after dinner to head ‘home’ to Morryde and made a stop at Walmart to pick up a couple of items and ended up herded to their back room due to a tornado warning. Sadly, the Walmart crew really had no clue what they were doing and need to do some ‘drills’ and educate their associates and the who, what, where, how of tornado safety. We ended up back there for about 30 minutes before we got the all clear and could leave.
We were up at 5:30 to move the trailer inside one of the bays. We met Sergio, our tech, and discussed what we wanted done. Besides having the IS put on, Michael also had a couple of ‘tray’s put in the basement for easier access to the contents.
Welcome! We know 6 of the 10 listed!
Our neighbors on the door side just happened to be Trey and Susan, friends we’ve known since 2013 when they were doing the RV weighing. We chatted with them and Gary (Morryde rep) for a bit before heading out for the day.
Four eggs Eggs Benedict
We stopped at Granma’s for breakfast. Their uniqueness is that if you order 2 eggs, you get 4 eggs…order 1, you get 2…etc. Plus the food is good and reasonably priced.
The rally folks had an Amish Tour from 9-3 so it was DEADer than dead. Thankfully, I had regular work to do and Michael received quite a few phone calls. Otherwise we visited with the other vendors…many of whom we already knew and have become friends.
Dinner this evening was brisket, potatoes, broccoli and chocolate bundt cake. We, once again, dined with our friends – Gary & Linda, Geoff & Johana and Jim. It’s a good crowd and we really enjoy getting to know them all better.
Back home about 7:00 pm we visited with Susan for a while before settling in for the night.
The morning view outside our window
Up at 5:00. We hung out in the Morryde lounge until 8:30 or so before heading over to the fairgrounds for another dull day at the Passport America rally.
Michael had his seminar and had ONE person show up…however, that one person is very interested and told Michael that he ‘would be contacting us soon’.
We left the fairgrounds about 3:30 to head back over to Morryde to pick up the coach as it was ready. After chatting with a couple of Heartland owners who had arrived to have work done on their trailers we paid our bill and hitched up the trailer to head back to the fairgrounds.
Bah humbug…another night at Morryde
Unfortunately, when we did our pull test, Michael found that our trailer brakes (still electric…disc next month) weren’t working. Gary was just leaving for the day and after consulting with him we opted to stay put for another night so that Sergio could take a look in the morning. (Bah humbug…that means another morning of 5:00 am wake up.)
The Passport rally was feeding pizza to everyone but rather than drive back over there we went to a pizza place just around the corner from Morryde.
Colombo’s had a lot of good reviews. We ordered a simple 14 inch pizza with ground beef, ham and extra cheese. We should have omitted the extra cheese as it was too much (can’t believe I’m saying that!) where it overpowered everything else. However, the pizza was still good.
We were back ‘home’ at Morryde shortly after 6:00 pm and actually in bed by 6:30 pm. We tried watching a ‘Ma & Pa Kettle’ movie but didn’t make it…Michael was out before 7:00 and I turned the light out just before 7:30 pm. We slept until 5:00 am when the shift ‘buzzer’ went off…it felt good to get so much sleep!
Up at 5:00 am again and Sergio got right to work. Only thing that needed to be done was to adjust the brakes a little more. They’re self-adjusting brakes and as we drove the 8 or 10 miles back to the fairgrounds they worked themselves out even more so that by the time we arrived they were working as they should.
We made it back to the fairground just before 7:00 am. We snuck in stealthily that our neighbors were surprised to see that we were back when they got up at 7:30! We were relaxing in our recliners with breakfast by 8:30.
While I stayed home to work, Michael went over to the rally hall to pack things up and take them over to where our product is stored for the time being.
Mid-afternoon, our friends Dan and Karen stopped by to visit. We showed them around the new digs and had a LOT to catch up on during our couple hour visit.
Chillin’ before bedtime
Our youngest son, Dan arrived about 6:15 pm. He’d driven from Wisconsin for a meeting Friday morning. We went to dinner at the Lux Cafe sometime after 7:00pm and enjoyed spending time with our baby.
Michael and Dan headed to Middlebury for their 10:00 am meeting. I stayed home to work and do a little home maintenance. While they were out they also stopped at Tredit to pick up a tire order.
When they got back home we all headed back out…but in separate vehicles as Dan was going to leave to head straight back to Wisconsin. We had lunch at Memories of China and found that it wasn’t too bad at all. I’m sure that Michael and I will be back over the summer.
Went through most of the kits…just have a few more to get ready!
Michael and I planned to inventory the product that we’ve received here at the fairgrounds (about 8 pallets total) so that we had a jump on things and didn’t have to worry about it once the pre-rally starts. As we were heading out the door to go do the inventory, we were invited to have a burger with our neighbors on the off-door side, Geoff and Johanna. They had also invited Gary & Linda and Hannah over.
We enjoyed the burger as well as the conversation, but before long we had to get our hiney’s in gear and get to work. We spent about an hour and a half organizing and inventorying. We didn’t get it all done (56+ 63 pound boxes was more than we could do in one day!) but got a very good start and will finish up early this next week.
Tuesday we, once again, hit the road…155 mile journey to Holland, Michigan, which is located on the western side of the state near Lake Michigan.
This was purely for pleasure, no rally involved. We’d heard a lot of good things about the area that we decided to visit between rallies.
I cropped out all the junk lying around.
We arrived in Holland at Drew’s Country Campground about 2:30 pm after a safe trip. However, I wouldn’t say smooth by any means…roads are horrible!
The campground is privately owned and pretty dated. The office is scary. There were lots of low-lying limbs to dodge, lots of old junk cars and trailers lying about and we didn’t know until we parked that we only had 30 amp and water. All for just under $40 a night…yikes. Thankfully, we can make anywhere home and we were only staying for 4 nights.
Our Heartland friends, Jim & Claudia, live in Holland and invited us over for dinner the evening that we arrived. We’ve not had much of a chance to spend any significant time with them so this was a real treat.
Jim grilled some delicious thick pork chops to perfection and Claudia prepared several tasty sides (cucumber salad, asparagus, breaded cauliflower with cheese sauce, sauerkraut, baked beans). Everything was scrumptious and we enjoyed every bit of it while we chatted and got to know each other better.
Jim & Claudia just picked up a new Elkridge a couple of weeks ago so we had a lot to discuss between our two new rigs. They showed us around their new rig before dinner and showed us the different mods they’d already completed and discussed those that they still want to do. Gotta make it your own!
We visited until 10:00 pm when several of us started yawning and decided it was time to call it a night. We said our goodbyes and will see them again in a few weeks at the Heartland National rally in Goshen, Indiana. Believe it or not…I didn’t get ANY pictures!
We took a good portion of one day to visit the sites of Holland. First we stopped at De Klomp, which is just a mile or so from our campground. De Klomp houses a Delft factory as well as a wooden shoe factory. We loved both!
Delft pottery is famous world-wide and there is only one production facility in all of North America…and it’s right here in Holland! We were able to watch two ladies working a molds…one that was freshly opened and being trimmed before being left to dry.
Tiny tiny artwork
All of the pottery is hand-painted onsite and we watched as two ladies did some painting. One was working on painting a wooden shoe and the other was painting a itty bitty piece of china. The pieces in the store are stunning…but along with stunning pieces of art came stunning price tags.
Creating a pair of wooden shoes
Also located at De Klomp is a wooden shoe factory. We spoke with a gentleman who runs the equipment that makes the shoes on site (some come from Holland too) and he showed us how the machines worked (two shoes are made at once) and explained lots of interesting tidbits about the history of wooden shoes. We were both fascinated.
Lots to choose from
They had some shoes on display so that you could try then on to determine your size…you know we had to try! While the bottoms of my feet felt fine…the tops, when I walked in them….didn’t like the shoes. Was fun, nonetheless!
A glimpse of the garden from afar
Also, in this location is Veldheer…a garden center which also has a tulip garden out back that you can view for $10.00 each. We passed as we thought that was a bit on the pricey side.
A nice walk to the lighthouse
From there we took a ride to Lake Michigan so that we could visit the Big Red Lighthouse. Only able to actually be accessed via a private community on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it took some doing but we finally found our way and it was worth it. It seems most people only view it from across the waterway at Holland State Park…that wasn’t good enough for us.
Water was a bit rough…not a wonder our feet got wet!
We love lighthouses and this one was an adventure to get to so we really enjoyed it. We walked out on the causeway and could have gone further out by the what was pretty rough and the waves were crashing up and over the causeway so we only went out part of the way…got our feet wet so we could say we did and then headed back.
Hard to see from the road…but it’s there
On our way back from the lighthouse we drove down South Shore Drive and admired the beautiful homes situated along the water. Jim & Claudia had told us that Betsy Devos (US Secretary of Education) has a summer home along South Shore Drive and we found it. Huge…absolutely huge! My picture is from the backside and doesn’t do it justice….but you can look HERE to see if from the water.
View upon arriving
Our last stop of the day was at Windmill Island. It’s home to a 250+ year old windmill, De Zwaan, which was purchased, in 1964, by the city of Holland from a retired miller in the Netherlands.
The front of the organ…but all the magic happens in the back
We were treated to the music from a working Amsterdam street organ. Originally, it was made to play by turning a handle it now has a switch to turn it on and off. The artwork on the front was recently repainted by a local artist and is absolutely gorgeous.
Built in 1928, the organ was a gift to the city of Holland from the city of Amsterdam in 1947. It was a ‘thank you’ to the United States for liberating the Netherlands during World War II.
Alisa Crawford, De Swaan miller
The true highlight of the visit was being able to tour De Swaan. De Swaan is an authentic working windmill and is the oldest in the US. The miller at De Swaan is a woman…the only certified female miller! She was honored to be only 1 of 36 millers as part of a Dutch Guild….the other 35 are all men. She did her training in Holland.
What a beauty!
The tour (included in the $10 admission) takes you up 5 stories inside the windmill. The walk up isn’t bad as you stop on each floor while the tour guide explains what each floor is used for.
The view from the 4th story balcony!
The mill only runs when the wind cooperates and the day we visited…the wind cooperated! It was so exciting to be inside the mill as the blades of the windmill turned….speeding up as the wind picked up…slowing down as the wind receded.
We were even able to walk outside on the 4th story to view the blades as they turned. It was SO very awesome.
While ‘Tulip Time’ was nearing its end there were still plenty of the gorgeous flowers in bloom during our visit. The entire area has tulips everywhere…different colors, varieties, variations. Definitely worth a visit. Windmill Island has several ‘fields’ of tulips and I was able to get a nice picture of them from atop the windmill.
Tomorrow we head south…about 100 miles to Goshen, Indiana where we’ll set up at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds for over a month. We have three rallies while we’re there (Passport America, Heartland, Open Range). It’ll be nice to sit in one place for a while though.
We pulled out of Zack’s driveway at just about 8:00 am and pulled into the Hideaway RV park in Jackson, Michigan a few minutes after 6:00 pm. We lost an hour with the time change, stopped at a Blue Beacon to get a spa treatment and to dump our tanks and grabbed some lunch to eat on the road. It was a long day but actually went pretty quickly.
It rained lightly the second half of the trip and was still raining when we checked into the campground and got situated in our site. We made quick work of setting up as we were meeting our friends Skip and Denise for dinner at Steaks Eatery.
We had a nice dinner, enjoyed visiting with Skip and Denise as well as Skip’s mom, Joan. We’d been to Steaks a few years ago and enjoyed it then, as well. But the highlight was catching up with Denise. We met in our senior year of high school where we both had recently transferred.
We visited at Denise & Skip’s house for a couple of hours. We checked out their new camper…a North Trail…part of our Heartland family.
Being Mother’s Day, Michael took me out to dinner to my choice of place. Bet you can’t guess what I chose. Ok….so maybe I’m a little easy to read…yes, we had Chinese. I chose Yen King as it had nice ratings on Yelp. Plus it was a ‘sit down’ restaurant rather than a buffet…which is what we prefer.
The place was on the smallish side but crazy busy! Waited about 10 minutes for a seat and about 45 minutes for our entrée. Which wasn’t a big deal as we had soup and appetizers before our meal came. Food was very good and our server was excellent. There was an issue with my entrée (they ran out of bean sprouts) so I had to reorder…but my meal was tasty nonetheless.
Not much going on other than work and Denise and Skip stopped by for a few minutes after Denise got off of work. They’d not seen our new coach and were interested to see what it was like.
Site 156 Pine Ridge Campground
We had a 100 miles to travel so we didn’t pull out of the campground until 11:00 am ish. We were headed to Birch Run, Michigan for a Grand Design rally. Birch Run is a hop, skip and jump away from Frankenmuth, a big German-influenced town.
The rally was held at Pine Ridge RV Park in Birch Run and held the 100+ rigs nicely. The campground is wooded and some of the roads can be a bit tight but the sites long and spacious….none of that parking right next to you neighbor or having to worry about getting both the coach and the truck parked in the site. We’ll go back.
2ps with Randy & Debbie
Randy our Dexter rep and his wife were in Frankenmuth and took us out to dinner at Slo Bones BBQ. We had a nice visit but got a chance to get to know Randy a little more and it was nice to meet his wife, Debbie. Unfortunately, the BBQ wasn’t Texas BBQ…but then again…we were in Michigan.
Randy stopped by so that we could discuss issues with receiving product, make plans, go over future updates and to set up a couple of visit to the Indiana plants.
After Randy’s visit we headed into Frankenmuth to check out Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. Another place we were told we had to visit. The store is HUGE….one and half football fields HUGE. They carry just about any Christmas ‘thing’ you’d want or need…Santas, Advent Calendars, stockings, nativities and just about any ornament you can think of…birds, Collegiate, kids, family, wedding, holidays, states, occupations….it goes on and on. While we didn’t buy anything it was fun just looking.
Michael talking with customers in the Vendor hall
The first official day of the rally. There was a small barn set aside for vendors (8 total) inside and then about 5 set up outside. We ‘manned’ our booth Thursday through Saturday…roughly from 10-4. We didn’t have any extra product to sell but got several leads and did sell a couple of suspension upgrades that we shipped to the customer’s home for DIYing.
Zack running the brake line on a Grand Design Solitude
Our oldest son, Zack, was our installer at this rally. He did a disc brake conversion on Friday and a suspension upgrade on Saturday. He stayed with us in our coach, making one of the couches into a bed. However, the first two nights he didn’t sleep the best due to a bar that lays across the couch. The third day we picked up an inflatable mattress and that seemed to help.
Part of our dinner spread
One of the must do’s is to have the all you can eat chicken dinner at Zehnder’s in downtown Frankenmuth. We had 6:00 pm reservations and the 3 of us went to check it out. Besides the chicken dinner (dressing, mashed potatoes, noodles and a vegetable) we also received several starters (cole claw, cottage cheese, cranberry orange relish, assorted breads, preserves, cheese spread and chicken liver pate.) We were also served noodle soup to start. And if that weren’t enough we were also served our choice of sherbet or ice cream to finish of the meal.
While the dinner was enjoyable…just me and my two oldest ‘boys’…both Zack and I found the chicken to be a bit underseasoned. Although after dinner we found extra seasoning on the table! Go figure. It seemed to be just right for Michael’s tastes though. I really enjoyed everything else though…not the pate…wasn’t going there! Zack didn’t think he’d go back…but I think Michael and I would…or we’d try the place across the street, The Bavarian Inn, which has a similar offering.
The RV Lock
Michael and I have agreed to vend for RVLock at the Heartland rally as well as some of the other rallies we attend. They don’t have a presence at any rallies so this should be a good partnership. We’ve had one of their RVLocks on our coach for years and love it. It’s a keyless entry system and works very well.
Just a few on some of the baggage doors
They also have locks for the basement (baggage) doors, as well. And thanks to Zack, we now have them on 8 of our basement doors and still have 3 doors to outfit. They all work with a remote or manually and are all keyed alike so that with just one button push on the remote they all unlock. Nice.
Was interesting watching this kid work the fudge and not let it run off the table.
We closed up shop about 2:00 pm and all headed into Frankenmuth to do a little shopping. Zack wanted to find gifts for Kelsea, Paityn and Cameron. We wandered around the shops and enjoyed tasting samples and viewing the European architecture of the city. We all found goodies to enjoy later.
Crazy Big Sandwiches!
With shopping out of the way we headed to dinner at Tony’s…another spot that is a ‘must do’. Known for their dishes made with a pound of bacon and their huge sundaes…we had to give it a try. Who doesn’t love bacon?
We all got something different but everything had bacon.
I went with a turkey (1/2 lb bacon), Zack had the BLT (1 lb bacon) and Michael had a bacon cheeseburger (lots of bacon!). Michael, again, was happy with his meal but Zack and I found the bacon to be overcooked (and we like crispy bacon) and not it wasn’t very flavorful. Although, I did enjoy my sandwich it would have been much better with better bacon.
Sunday – 5/19
Zack left on Sunday. It was wonderful having him all to ourselves for a few days and we all behaved and had no outbursts! A rarity, unfortunately.
Michael and I lounged around most of the day…watching the Grand Design rigs pull out of the park. By the end of the day the park was pretty well cleared out with just a few left. But Monday afternoon there were only a handful of rigs left from the rally.
It rained off and on through out the day and was chillier than it had been so it was a good day to put a pot of spaghetti on the stove to simmer all day. Mmmmm….my Mama’s spaghetti.
We pulled out of the Caddo River Access RV Park at 8:06 am and pulled into the Hinton RV Park in Sikeston, Missouri almost exactly 8 hours later. We made about an hour stop for lunch at Kelly’s Kitchen.
Just a little rain.
About the time we were ready to head over to Lambert’s for dinner the bottom felt out and it poured. We waited for it to slow down some before we headed out.
There was no wait when we got to Lambert’s so we were taken right to a table. We enjoyed our meals, as usual, and had plenty to take home with us for future meals.
We planned to travel to Bloomington, IL and spend the night before making the final leg of our journey. However, we had a change of plans as snow was predicted for the following day and we didn’t want to have to try backing into Zack’s driveway in a mess. So about 1/2 an hour before hitting the road we decided to drive the entire 515 miles.
The drive actually went very smoothly. We made minimal stops and didn’t even have lunch at Kelly’s Kitchen…instead we picked up some lunch and ate it while continuing our drive. Lum and Abner helped to fill the time too!
Safely tucked away for 2 weeks
We arrived at Zack and Kelsea’s about 6:00 pm, got parked, had dinner that Kelsea had waiting and then visited for a while. Dan, Amanda and their trio stopped by so we got hugs from them too.
We did, indeed, beat the snow. It started snowing the following morning about 9:00 am and continued all day…big flakey flakes. Probably about 4 inches or so total…but most of it melted the following day. Whew!
PTB was crazy busy for the two weeks that we were in Wisconsin…seemed like we were always working. But we did make sure to fit in time to see each of the grandbabies participating in the activities.
Paityn & Zoe stretching
Both Paityn and Zoe are in gymnastics so we were able to watch a couple of their practices (they’re there at the same time, which was helpful!) They both amaze me at how well they do…and Zoe follows direction so well.
Bennie playing defense
Ben is playing soccer. We were able to see two of his games. He’s come a long way with listening and following direction. He stayed on task the entire time and there was no ‘zoning out’.
Alex getting a hit!
Alex is playing baseball. We were able to watch him play one game…sadly, his second game was rained out (better than snow!). We really enjoyed getting to watch his game (my favorite sport). He got a hit and played several different positions (trying things out) and even got to field the ball.
Cameron, isn’t in an activity right now…but we got to spend some one on one time with him while his sister was at gymnastics.
One morning not long after arriving I was in ‘my office’ working when there was a ‘double bump’ to the slide I was sitting in…thinking either Zack or Kelsea were being the punks that they normally are and banging on the slides, I yelled ‘Knock it off!’ and waited for someone to come inside….and I waited…and waited…no one ever came in.
The Walking Dead….starring Zack!
Then I heard some moaning going on outside. I got up and went to the door to find Zack lying on the ground, hold his head and moaning. I told him to ‘knock it off, as that wasn’t funny’. But then I looked a bit more and saw that his phone was lying on the ground and his shoes were off. I yelled for Michael to come (I was still in my pjs).
To make a long story short. Zack had been looking at his phone while walking and walked into the corner of one of our living room slides. He actually hit twice…once on the top of his head and then right above his right eye where he received a cut. He had a nice scuff mark on the top of his head as well as quite a goose egg.
Kelsea took him to the clinic where they put some steri-strips on his cut and sent him home. He had actually knocked himself out for a short while (that’s why it was so quiet after the initial ‘bump’ that I felt) and quite a headache for a couple of days.
These goofs love spending time together
We all got together a couple of different times. Dan and Amanda had us all over for grilled steaks and games. It was a nice day so the kids all played outside on the swing set for a while and then later settled down inside to watch movies.
Go Brewers Go!
We all drove to Milwaukee to take in a Brewers game on Cinco de Mayo. The roof was open and the sun was hot and our seats had no shade. The rest of the crew braved the sun but Michael and I moved a few rows back to sit in the shade.
Turned out to be a good, close game with the Brewers pulling out the win with a score of 3-2. We always enjoy a good Brewers game and hoping we can get to another one this summer.
While we didn’t spend Mother’s Day with the boys, I was given wonderful gifts by both.
What a beauty!
We don’t use our propane stove/oven so I wanted a cover to go on top of the stove top to set my induction cook tops on and to keep the stove top clean. Zack built a cover out of various woods that goes right over the top and it’s awesome!
No pictures of us…but here’s the cream brule! LOL
And Dan took me…just me…out for dinner to Johnnie’s Italian Steakhouse. It was SO nice to have time alone with my baby. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and chatted about whatever we felt like….very little PTB…gotta get away from that every now and again! We even got dessert! Creme Brule for me!
I’ve been so blessed throughout my life and couldn’t ask for anything more.
Before we knew it, it was time to hitch up and move on down the road toward Michigan where we’ll be attending the Michigan Grand Design rally in Birch Run.
But…we had one last get together. This time at Zack and Kelsea’s for a smoked brisket dinner. Macaroni & Cheese, Italian pasta salad, creamed corn, green beans & corn bread rounded out the meal. And for dessert? Unicorn cupcakes! Delish.
Girls enjoying a little wine…
Once again, while the babies played outside and then watched a movie the adults played cards…this time it was Canasta…Michael and I partnered and sucked. LOL…but, there were no arguments, only laughter and that made it all worthwhile!
Pulled out of the Cleveland County Fairgrounds at 9:00 am on Thursday 4/18. We took smaller roads and enjoyed the views…cows, farms, horses.
We followed rain all the way to our destination although we only got rained on (for just a little bit) about 45 minutes from our final destination.
We made about an hour stop for lunch at Kelly’s Kitchen in Somewhere, Oklahoma. Just a small park at the intersection of two roads with a couple of picnic tables. We were the only ones there and it was a little on the chilly side so we ate our lunch inside.
We made it to the Caddo River Access RV Park in Glenwood about 4:30 pm. Got backed into a site easily enough, unhitched, got things up and running inside and then were off. We grabbed some grub for the road and headed over to Mike’s moms for a visit. We ended up visited for several hours before getting back home about 8:00 pm.
We received a new converter while we were at the warehouse and Michael was able to install in Friday morning. It took less than 30 minutes (including emptying the basement and placing everything back in) and we were back in business.
Eggs so fresh Mikey had to clean the poop off!
We got a surprise visit from our friend, Cherie, Friday afternoon. We visited for a little while before she had to head home to cook some dinner and we had to get back to work. The sweetheart even brought us fresh eggs from her sons chickens!
The Barnett family
That evening we had invited Michael’s mom, niece, brothers and cousin to join us at the Fish Nest for dinner. There were eleven of us in all and it was nice to have everyone in one place, which doesn’t happen very often.
Saturday Michael started working on building a ramp off the front porch of Alice’s house. She uses a walker these days and without the ramp she can’t get out to her front yard to water plants, weed etc. She asked Michael if he could put something together for her.
Corey using his muscles
Alyssa removing all kinds of screws
Alyssa helped him on Saturday by removing a ton of screws from an old ramp that he was hoping to reuse some of the boards for but didn’t end up using them after all but he was able to reuse a lot of the screws.
On Sunday, cousin Corey helped by digging some trenches for the new ramp to sit in so that Alice would have a smooth approach to and from the porch using the ramp.
Monday was all work…no play. Boo!
Tuesday we did some work in the morning and then Michael rain some errands (haircut and picked up propane and Quikrete) while I stayed home to get some ‘home’ stuff done.
Long time friends
That afternoon we met with Cherie and her husband, Bill, for an early dinner at El Diamente in Glenwood. We don’t get to see Bill very often so this was a special treat. We had such a good time visiting and catching up.
Time to screw down the decking
After dinner we headed over to Alice’s so that Michael could put down a concrete base for the ramp to sit on. While he worked, Alice and I sat outside on the front porch and visited.
Wednesday we met our friends, Brock and Tammy, in Hot Springs to enjoy lunch at World Buffet. Tammy is my ‘Chinese Buddy’ as we both love it. Brock and Michael went to school together and got into mischief together as kids though I’d never met Brock or Tammy until a few years ago but we’ve become good friends.
Afterward we ran a few quick errands and then headed back out to Alice’s to visit and finish work on the ramp. Michael really did a nice job and it looks great and works well for Alice who tried it out right away.
We were home about 8:30, giving me time to do some work, pack the following days lunch and do some move prep as we were hitting the road the following more….final destination….GRANDBABIES!
Brrr! It was cold hitching up to leave Amarillo! 39 degrees…with a ‘feels like’ of 20! Plus it was WINDY! My flip flops didn’t quite cut it! 🙂
The Leaning Tower of Groom
Not long after leaving Amarillo we came across two interesting sites along the interstate. Our friend Rachel had told us about them so we were on the look out. Both were in the small town of Groom Texas. The first was a large cross located at an area the church…similar to others we’ve seen during our travels.
The second one was what is referred to as the ‘Leaning Tower of Groom‘. It’s a water tower that never met code so someone bought it and decided to use it as a ‘landmark’ and make it lean.
Car parked in the way
We pulled out of the Big Texan RV Ranch about 9:00 am and headed west on I-40 toward Oklahoma. It was time to check in at the warehouse. We pulled into the Cleveland County Fairgrounds about 4:00 pm and found only one site that didn’t have an RV in it. It was a 30 amp site…but we can make do with that. However, someone had parked a car in the spot. Since they don’t take reservations and there is no saving spots we just pulled in next to the car and hooked up to power, electric and sewer and assumed that whoever was using the site as a parking lot would move the car when they realized an RV had moved in.
About 9:00 pm that night we heard people outside and assumed that the people were back and would move their car. I could tell they were complaining so went outside to find out what the issue was.
Two men (one elderly, the other a little younger than us) were checking out the hook ups and told us that we were in their site. We disagreed. They had a receipt (that they waved around constantly) saying they’d paid for the site and that the car was saving the spot and asked if we had a receipt. We told them that the normal procedure was to go to the kiosk, take an envelope, fill it out with site information, add payment and drop it back in the box. No receipt involved.
Snuggled into the whole site after the car moved.
They insisted that we move…we told them no…that we’d paid for the site and were in it. They called the police. After a lengthy wait it was determined that we’d stay in the site (they had to move the car so that we could scooch over further into the site). They were found another site around the corner. Two hours of our night…wasted.
I’ll just bet that whatever person in the office allowed them to pay in advance and park their car in the site got a talking to. We had a couple of other people here in the park tell us they’d tried to do that and were told ‘absolutely not’.
Friday we spent the day at the warehouse. Both Alyssa and Preston were there so we got caught up on all things PTB. I invoiced several customers and did my normal work while Michael piddled around in the shop, spoke with customers on the phone and worked with Alyssa to determine the best way to utilize the space in the warehouse as it’s getting fuller and fuller all the time.
After work, Michael and I went out for dinner. We tried a new place, Sam’s Southern Eatery and were very pleased. Being Lent we both went with the 6 piece jumbo shrimp dinner (came with 8 shrimp!) which came with two sides. Michael went with fries and cole slaw and I had fries and green beans. It also came with 2 hushpuppies which were pretty spicy. The shrimp was excellent and more than we could eat…will make some alterations they next time we go.
Saturday was spent at home…doing nothing…and it felt SO good. It rained all day and well into the night. It was cold and gloomy and perfect to have the fireplace blazing all day. I hung out in my jammies all day and cleaned up the DVR of several TV shows that I was behind on.
Sunday the sun came out and we ventured out. First to Furr’s to enjoy their breakfast buffet. After breakfast we took a drive out to Thunder Lake State Park. While staying at the fairgrounds while in Norman is convenient (4 miles to the warehouse) it’s getting harder and harder to get a site since there are so many ‘permanent’ people staying there.
We’d been told that the state park had full hook up sites and since it wasn’t too far away (about 15 miles) it would be a fairly easy commute. It turned out to be a pretty drive and the park had nice views as well. We saw several sites that were long enough to accommodate this new monster of ours. Not sure if we’ll stay there though as there were quite a few low limbs and we try not to get the coach into tight squeezes.
Alyssa receiving a pallet of shipping supplies
Monday it was back to work at the warehouse. Business has picked up so much that we decided that we needed another fulltime person in the warehouse. I met with a young man who was looking for fulltime work. He happens to be friends with one of our installers and has helped him with several installs so he has some knowledge of disc brakes which is great.
Busy crew working to get orders out.
Everything worked out just perfect and the stars were aligned just right and we were able to have him start the following day. He dove right in, using the new press we purchased for the shop. He used it to remove 9/16 inch studs from 4 hub/rotors and then used it to insert 5/8 inch studs back into the hub/rotors for a customer.
Things went very smoothly while we were at the warehouse. Michael got some things that he needed to take care of done while we were there. We discussed some new shelving options for better storage in the warehouse. It was a good visit.
Our last night in Norman we took the crew out for dinner at Kendall’s in Noble. Just a small restaurant but their claim to fame is chicken fried steak. They have one of those food challenges where if you eat so much (and make yourself miserable) you get your meal free and get honored. None of us participated…but three of us did enjoy the chicken fried steak, while two others had the fried catfish and the fifth went with a chicken breast sandwich. Very good and I wouldn’t mind going back.
Thursday 4/18 we headed out of Norman at 9:00 am…headed for Arkansas and a visit with Michael’s family and our friends.
Even though we only had 115 miles to travel between Tucumcari, New Mexico and Amarillo, Texas…Michael insisted we leave early enough so that we could still reach Amarillo by ‘morning’! Goof (He even insisted we listen to ‘Amarillo by Morning’ as we drove. LOL!
Packing up to leave has become much easier since we have the rooftop satellite dish now (no more setting up and breaking down the tripod) and quite a few things less things that have to be stowed as most items have ‘homes’. Makes things way easier.
We pulled out of the Blaze-in-Saddle RV park in Tucumcari at 8:32 am mst and reached the Big Texan RV Park just before 11:30 am cst and got settled into our site for the next week. We lost an hour with the time change…that’s the reason we had to leave so early on such a short travel day.
Check out this goofy parking pattern!
The park used to be a mobile home park so the sites are set up pretty strangely. We were escorted to site 118A…a nice long pull through but its set up so that another camper would pull in behind us…I guess they’d have to back out. All around us, rigs came in and were escorted through other sites, over the grass, any which way they could to get to their site. Weird set up.
Friday we worked 1/2 a day and then went and ‘played’. We went to a movie, got our toes done and have a veggie pizza for dinner (Lent). PTB is still super busy (almost 1/2 way to this months sales goal by the 5th of the month!) So we take advantage of the quiet when we can!
The movie we saw this week was ‘Us‘. Labeled as a horror/thriller, this one had me a bit leery (I’m a chicken)…but with a 7.4 rating on IMDb we decided to check it out. It wasn’t really scary (didn’t hide once) but it was really kinda dumb in my opinion. Michael thought the plot was good…me not so much. Not one I’d recommend. At least the popcorn was good!
We chose 575 Pizzeria, again, because of its high ratings on Yelp. Thankfully, this one turned out to be on par. Just a small place but welcoming. We ordered the ‘tine Trio (Olive tapenade, spinach artichoke dip and bruschetta with brick fired bread) for starters. It turned out to be quite yummy. Michael doesn’t care for olives in any form but tried the tapenade and didn’t die. 😉
Our small pizza with (tomatoes, onions, pineapple, red peppers and black olives on half). The server topped with fresh grated cheese at our table and it was really tasty.
Giving Tim the ‘High Sign’
We were pleasantly surprised to find that Molly & Gene C were in the same park as us and arrived the same day we did. They’re the inlaws of Tim from T&S and also have a Landmark. We’d followed each other on Facebook but not met in person. We were pleased when we they stopped by to say ‘Hi’ on their way out to do the touristy things. What a treat!
Saturday we headed out to do some exploring. First stop: Cadillac Ranch This one had been on my list for several years and it was fun to finally make it happen. We made sure to stop at Walmart prior to our visit to pick up a couple of cans of spray paint (purple for me, copper for Michael) so that we could engross ourselves in the experience!
Mudhole = fun!
We picked a not so good time to visit…it rained the night before and the area around the cars themselves was a lake…ok so maybe a pond. Our plan of adding to the art was a bit harder to get done…but we did it!
Help! My feet are stuck!
We got our feet covered in mud (almost lost my flip flops a time or two), Michael found an egg inside one of the cars and we just had fun being silly. Michael’s copper paint covered two hubs and I just made a purple heart with our initials in it…hard to see…but it’s there! The paint was so thick it was crazy…and it just dripped.
Cadillac Ranch RV Park display
We also made a quick run through of the Cadillac Ranch RV Park and quickly determined it wasn’t a place we’d stay…pretty yucky. But I didn’t take the opportunity to take a picture of the Cadillacs and cowboy out front!
Check that out!
Second Stop: Palo Duro Canyon – This was not on my radar at all…didn’t know anything about it at all until my cousin, Ryan asked if we were going to visit while we were in Amarillo. He sent me a link and I did a little more research and found out we definitely we needed to add it to our list of things to see while in town.
Lunch with a view!
It was a great way to spend our Saturday! I packed sandwich fixings and we took our time driving through the state park, stopping several times to check different things out. We enjoyed our picnic lunch at one of the day use areas while watching hikers and bikers come and go from one of the many trails in the park.
Known as the ‘Grand Canyon of Texas’, Palo Duro Canyon is the 2nd largest canyon in the US. We both found it amazing as we drove to the park that the scenery was fairly flat and boring and then out of nowhere the ground gave way to his gorgeous crater. The colors…layers….outcroppings…unbelievable. This is definitely a don’t miss stop when in the Amarillo area.
Unique little place
Final Stop: Little Buddhist Temple – This was another Roadside America find. While the place was interesting it definitely could have used some tender loving care. The most interesting thing we came across was a ‘cemetery’ of sorts…within the brick wall ‘fence’. Each column held (what we believed to be) the remains of a follower of the Laotian Buddhist religion.
A few of the memorials were taken care of…clean, orderly, loved. But most were in disrepair, dirty, forgotten. Nevertheless, it was an interesting stop…just wish we’d been able to go inside the temple to learn more.
Another check off the old bucket list!
We topped the day off with dinner at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. This is the home of the 72 oz steak dinner challenge. Eat a 72 ounce steak, shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad and a roll with butter. The participant must eat everythingin the allotted 60 minutes. We didn’t have any takers while we were there but there was a winner the previous day…it had been 6 months since the last winner.
72 ounce steak meal
We chose to go the ‘normal’ route and each ordered a 12 ounce ribeye, loaded baked potato and a cup of the veggie soup. Everything was very good…though our server was lacking. She tried to deliver salads to us (not ours), didn’t give us spoons for our soup (waited about 10 minutes for her to finally bring them) and sent the expediter to our table with the wrong main course.
We had two gentleman come to our table asking for requests to play for us. Of course, Michael requested ….Amarillo by Morning. They did a great job and their performance added to the experience.
There they are! Left center
When we got home we found out that Molly & Gene had been to the Big Texan that evening too! After looking at my pictures I found that I had taken a picture of the dining room and they’re in it! LOL
My expert marksman!
After dinner we wandered around a bit…stopping to play a shooting game (I got 23/25 and Michael got 25/25)…checked out the creepy pics in one hallway and sat in the Big Texan rocking chair. We also did a little shopping in the gift shop – gifts for ourselves, our boys and a good friend.
When we leave Amarillo on Thursday it will be the last time we’re in Texas until this fall so I we got our Texas cravings out of the way.
Breakfast is served!
First we found a place that has jalapeno & cheese sausage kolaches and stocked up…a dozen. They freeze well so we’ll have them for quite some time to come. They’re great on travel days…just pop ’em in the microwave for a minute and go!
We also had dinner at Whataburger on Tuesday. We got done with work about 3:30 (woot!) and went to the closest location for dinner. Was a nice little treat.
Our last day in Amarillo was a warm one…89 for a high…however, overnight it got down into the high 20s…brrrr! And it was windy! There was a gloomy haze that hung over the whole area all day and the wind rocked the coach all day and all night.
I forgot to mention that when we came home from our day out on Saturday we didn’t have any lights. Michael did some investigating and figured out that the converter wasn’t working properly. If he charged it we’d have lights (and the ability to lower our bed!) but the charge didn’t last.
He called Heartland an Monday and explained the issue to them and they ordered a new converter and were supposed to ship it out to our warehouse on Wednesday. Hoping it arrives on Friday so that Michael can install it over the weekend.
In the meantime, Michael bought a new battery charger and has been using that to keep the converter happy. Without, we have no lights (other than the two lamps), air conditioning, hot water. Anything that actually plugs into an outlet worked fine (TV, microwave, lamps, fan, chargers, etc).
Tuesday, March 26th we were back on the road heading east and away from Arizona where we’d been since early January. Seemed strange to say goodbye but we were both ready.
Our journey took us to Alamogordo, New Mexico (just under 300 mile drive) where we stayed at the Boothill RV park for 2 nights. That gave us a chance to get caught up with work and laundry! We hadn’t had full hook ups or access to laundry in 11 days!
The park turned out to be a nice place with a long pull through for us to pull into, laundry facilities, nicely manicured roads, etc.
We also took a day trip to Cloudcroft. (Read about that HERE) While there we enjoyed a very romantic (and pricey) 6 course meal at Rebecca’s. We both enjoyed it so much and had wonderful memories that we decided a ‘do over’ was in order.
Our server finishing our Chateaubriand
We made reservations for Wednesday night and looked forward to it all day. We arrived shortly before our reservation and took a seat at the bar for a few minutes before we were escorted to our table.
I’d checked their online menu to be sure that they still offered the Chateaubriand special…they did…6 course meal (appetizer, soup, salad, sorbet, entrée & dessert) for two. When our waitress told us what came with the meal she said, ‘soup or salad’ and had to question her and was told that it had been changed to one or the other not both. I told her that wasn’t what their website stated and she said ok.
Completed dish. We had so much leftover we had ‘Chateaubriand Hash’ for breakfast a couple of days later!
She came back later and said that the manager said I must have been looking at a menu from somewhere else…Yelp, Travel Advisor, etc…because their website was up to date. I had my phone next to me and it had their website pulled up so I showed her and she said…’Oh, I’ll have to yell at my manager’. In the end we got the meal we were there for at the price we expected.
Our meal spanned several hours and we enjoyed it very much…we even took leftovers home to enjoy at a later date. The drive back down the mountain was as enjoyable as it was in the past…one we’d recommend anyone taking if in the area.
First time we’ve ever been escorted to a site by a bicycle
The following day, Thursday, we pulled up stakes and headed north to Tucumcari, New Mexico. Just 230ish miles, so it was a fairly easy drive. We pulled into the Blaze-in-Saddle RV Park about 3:00 pm and were escorted to a nice wide pull-through site for the next week.
We didn’t have any real plans for Tucumcari…it just happened to be along the route toward Norman and we’d never been there so it was as good a spot to stop as any.
LOTS of wind mills
Saturday March 30th was my 53rd birthday and with no real plans we ended up driving to Clovis (80 miles south) to do some errands and grab some dinner. The drive there was kind of ‘blah’…not a lot of scenery other than LOTS of windmills and not much traffic either.
Much prettier drive home…
However, the drive home was a bit more scenic (we took a different route) – cows, farms, mesas, etc…still not much traffic…but that was ok.
We tried Thai City for dinner and weren’t real pleased. They didn’t have the appetizer we ordered. My soup came after my meal (Michael got his before his meal). Michael’s battered chicken was soggy, my chicken was bland. Just not the best experience.
Our dinner companions
On Monday, 4/1, we were blessed to share dinner with our Heartland friends, Don & Vicky and Vicky’s mom, Cristell. Don & Vicky live about an hour south of Tucumcari but Cristell lives in Tucumcari. We met for dinner at Del’s…open since 1956! We had very enjoyable meal and really enjoyed getting the chance to meet Cristell.
Our spot for the week.
We really enjoyed our stay in Tucumcari and have already decided we’ll be back. With not a whole lot of site-seeing to worry about we got plenty of time to work (it’s been CRAZY busy) and also had time to relax. There are a few things we’d like to see in the area so we’ll plan accordingly next time.
Our neighbors for several nights
The park has been busy with over-nighters all week….many being snowbirds heading back north for the summer. Some even had horses with them and there are horse stables right behind us…so that was fun!
Our week’s stay went quickly and tomorrow we continue west…but only 115 miles to Amarillo, Texas where we’ll be staying for another week. Have some exciting things to do during our stay…can’t wait.
We arrived at the Stronghold Ranch about noon on Saturday the 23rd. The Stronghold Ranch is the home to our installer Dennis and his family. They settled there about a year ago and have been working hard to ‘make it there own’ ever since.
It’s in a gorgeous location at the foothills the Cochise Stronghold…beautiful views abound! They installed 2 RV sites so that customers can come to their location to have an install down and also enjoy the surrounding area.
You should how awesome the inside of this little place is…Dennis did ALL the work!
They full-timed in their class A motorhome until they got their casita built and livable. Now their motorhome serves as an Airbnb destination! What a couple of entrepreneurs! Here’s a link to their listing Click HERE.
We had such a wonderful stay at their ranch. They were perfect tour guides…sending out out on a couple of scenic drives that we awesome. One nearly giggled me right out of my skin.
We settled in easily, visited with Dennis and Mavis for a couple of hours and then set out to get some lunch and take a drive through the area.
Sandy’s Restaurant & RV Park was what Dennis & Mavis recommended so that’s where we headed first. A small place with a homey atmosphere…just our kind of place. We both ordered burgers & soup. Food was very good and the service was excellent. Tony, our server, was awesome….friendly and fun.
Sandy’s homemade pastries were highly recommended so we each picked out a couple to take home for later.
One of several structures we came across on our first drive.
After our late lunch we headed out for a scenic drive on the Ghost Town Trail which was beautiful. We saw quite a bit of wildlife as well as remains of buildings. We took our time, stopping to view certain things, etc. It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon…especially after the crazy busy week we’d been through.
The following morning we headed out fairly early so that we could go back to Sandy’s for breakfast…just as good as the previous days ‘lupper’. Service was just as good as the previous day as, Sandy, the owner, waited on us. The place was quite busy but she still took the time to give us friendly, personal service.
The Cochise Stronghold
After breakfast we headed to the Cochise Stronghold Campground where we were expecting a better view of the Cochise Stronghold and possibly some more information than what we could find online. Unfortunately, we didn’t find it. (Click HERE for the online version) We just figured with such a historic past we’d get more information. Oh well…it’s a beautiful area nonetheless.
It was a fun drive too…we drove through at least half a dozen washes…some fairly deep…others not so much.
Came across several of these and were a bit shocked by the first one but we just opened it up…closed after we went through and continued on our way.
We also took Dennis’ advice and took another scenic drive…this one along the base of the mountains. Apparently, he meant for us to only drive so far down the road and then turn around…however, we missed that part and kept going. We drove the entire 8.5 miles and let me tell you…it was crazy in spots! The entire drive was fairly rough…some much more rough than others. Most of the drive the road/path/trail was plenty ride…however, the last couple of miles it got pretty narrow!
At one point I laughed so hard, Michael stopped the truck and just stared at me to make sure I was ok. While I cursed Dennis a few times during the really crazy part….we really had a lot of fun. LOL The views were stunning and the terrain magnificent. We didn’t see many animals at all…though we did see ‘evidence’ of cows having been around.
How awesome is that?
At one of the very narrow parts of the pathy/trail we rounded a corner to find two cows in the middle of the road and a small pond to the right where there were several other cows hanging out. It was actually a very pretty scene…of course I had to take some pictures to share.
Just chillin’ with Dennis and Maddie
We got back home by mid-afternoon and did some work before heading over to Dennis & Mavis’ place where we had a cookout. Nothing fancy…just good old burgers & dogs with some side dishes. The weather was gorgeous so we sat outside visiting and sharing stories.
After a while we had a group of about eleven javelinas join us. Apparently they stop by each evening to graze on the grass in the yard. Mavis has name most of them and can tell you about their habits…two are twins, one baby not very old, a couple always get down on their front knees where foraging, etc.
We didn’t bother them…they didn’t bother us. Mutual respect.
About the time that it really started to cool off we all headed into the house to enjoy a bowl of ice cream. We had such a great time and we treated like royalty by these two humble and gracious folks. Now we just have to talk our kids into joining us next time! 🙂
Dennis hard at work install a set of disc brakes
While we were there…one of our recent customer came for a three night stay to have his disc brakes installed. Since we do a good portion of our sales online or by phone we both really enjoy getting to meet our customers in person.
Bob & Carla did pretty much the same thing we did while they were there…took a couple of drives but they also visited Tombstone which isn’t much of a drive either. We enjoyed getting to know them and wish them safe travels.