Travel Day: Mt. Ida, AR To Oklahoma City, OK

Our goal was to pull out of our site about 8:30 am and we ended up pulling out before 8:30.  It was a bit of a tight squeeze but Mikey did an excellent job and we came out unscathed.

Next was dealing with the awkward dump station that’s on the opposite side of the road from where most campers will need it and not really designed for a 40 foot 6 inch coach.  But, once again we persevered and got the job done and pulled out onto the highway about 8:50 am.

Nice scenic drive for the first part of our drive

Our route took us along US 270 and then US 71 pretty much to Ft. Smith. It was a pretty drive filled with winding roads, hills, leaves beginning to change color, cows and hay.  We know how much I enjoy cows and hay!  So for me it was a good route!

Pretty much the extent of our rain

We got a little sprinkling of rain as we were passing through Fort Smith but it was about 137 sprinkles and it was over before it began.  We’d heard that it was raining in Oklahoma City where we were headed but by the time we arrived it was bright and sunny with no rain in sight.

Even though I had prepared our lunches yesterday we decided to skip Kelly’s Kitchen and stop at the Wendy’s just before we got onto I-40.  We must have been excited to get to today’s destination as we only stopped for about 45 minutes before we were back on the road.
We only had about 175 miles left after lunch…all of it being on I-40.  The drive along I-40 was pretty uneventful.  We stopped once to use the bathroom at a gas station and found that they were selling Tillamook Country Smoker jerky so we got a couple of pieces to snack on.
We pulled into the Roadrunner RV Park on the south side of Oklahoma City about 3:15 pm and as we walked in to the office our friend Bob C was there to greet us.  I got a nice big hug and we chatted a bit before it was our turn to check in.

Site 120, Roadrunner RV Park

We were assigned site 120 and we found our way easily enough.  We’re in a pull through site which makes set up really easy.  Pull in, park, unhitch, level, put the slides out…done!  LOL

This park was hit by a tornado in 2015 (yikes!) and from what I understand a lot of damage was done. Since the tornado they’ve added on and we are in the ‘new’ section.  Sounds like the majority of the rally-goers will be in the new section with a few stuck over in the ‘old’ section.
We are here for the Oklahoma Chapter, Heartland Owners Club rally so we’re excited to spend time with friends and make some new ones too!  We are here for one week and then we move south to Tyler, Texas where we’ll attend the North Texas Chapter, Heartland Owners Club rally!  And if that’s not enough…from there we’ll move to Braunig Lake, Texas (just south of San Antonio) for the South Texas Chapter, Heartland Owners Club rally (which is OUR chapter and we’re hosting the rally…Yikes!)
I’m pretty sure we’re gonna need a vacation by the end of these upcoming three weeks!  LOL

Terry, Ron & Michael

We had a quick dinner and then went out visiting.  We visited with Ron Russell (The Titan Guy) who will be doing a short presentation and is parked kitty corner from us.  While we visited with him Terry H. stopped by and we chatted with him for a while.

Spending time with some our favorite people is what these rally’s are all about!

After leaving Ron’s we went over to say hi to Jay and Stella who arrived while we were visiting with Ron. When we got to Jay and Stella’s place Bob C was there so we chatted with him until he went on his way.  Then it was just Jay & Stella and us…when we finally decided it was time to go home it was 10:00 pm!

Well have more rally-goers arriving tomorrow and throughout the remainder of the week as well.  So looking forward to time with our friends!
Before I forget…we have not had ANY leaks from the underbelly with the installation of the new grey tank.  Woohoo!  Plus, the Anderson valve that Michael installed in the UDC seems to be working well too! Keep saying those prayers!

 

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Indians and Watermelon

On our way to Mike’s mom’s house (one of many routes we’ve taken between our place and hers) we pass through the itty bitty town of Caddo Gap.  Caddo Gap has a population of less than 100 and is easily missed if you blink while driving down highway 8 between Norman and Glenwood.

Caddo Indian Monument

At the crossroads of Vaught Street, 6th Street and Indian Valley Road in this tiny little town sits an Indian monument honoring the Caddo Indians who had settlements scattered throughout this area, northeastern Texas and northwestern Louisiana.  The nearby Caddo Rivers, the town of Caddo Gap and Caddo Hills Schools were named for these native American people.

It’s an interesting bit of American history that is hidden within in this sleepy little town.  That’s my kind of sight-seeing!
Hope, Arkansas (south of where we are) claims to be the watermelon capital of the world…so we’ve been hunting for a produce stand since we crossed into Arkansas on September 5th.  We saw a few, but either weren’t able to stop or went back and it was gone.
I even went as far as asking friends/family on Facebook if they knew of a stand in our area…nothing panned out.

Thar’ she blows!

Wednesday we picked up some groceries in Hot Springs and gave up and purchased a watermelon there.  I told Michael, ‘Just wait…now we’ll find a produce stand.’

Of course….the very next day as we drove into Glenwood…there was a produce stand…with watermelons!  Even though we already had a watermelon at home we couldn’t pass these up. Though they weren’t from Hope…they are locally (Arkansas) grown.   We also ended up with some muscadine grapes, peaches, tomatoes and plums.  Yum!

Brisket…

We spent Wednesday afternoon with Mike’s oldest brother, Eddie, and his wife, Val.  They have limited chance to get out of the house so we took them into Hot Springs to do some shopping and have lunch.

…Nachos

Eddie and Val treated us to lunch at Smokin’ in Style BBQ.  Portions were large and food was good….but not great. Michael’s brisket was on the dry side but had good flavor.  I had chicken nachos, which we’re good but I’d have liked the chicken to have more of a smokey flavor.

Even the smallest project makes him happy.

Nearly every visit we make to Michael’s mom’s home he finds some kind of project to work on.  This time was no different…however the project was a very small one.  He just needed to work on a security bar that is used to secure doors.  He got the job done in no time and Alice is happy with the outcome.

Movie Time!

This week’s ‘movie of the week’ was Atomic Blonde.  We went to the AMC theater in Hot Springs and I’m not sure we’ve ever been in a smaller theater…just 8 rows!  There was only one other person in the theater with us so it was pretty quiet!  LOL

The movie was good…kept my interest the whole time but I had a hard time following at times and the ending kinda left me wondering but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
While we were in town we also stopped at a car wash to get the truck washed as it was looking pretty nasty!  Of course, having a dually is a bit of a drawback with automated car washes but this place will wash by hand too.  For $20 we got the truck hand washed and dried and it looks MUCH better than it did.
 Friday we hung out and home and even had a fire that evening….even though it was still almost 90 degrees outside! The weather has been gorgeous since we’ve been in Arkansas…highs in the high 70s to low 80s with lows in the 50s and 60s.  However, that all changed in the last few days where we’ve been getting highs up into the 90s.

We’ve found that some of the best food comes from places like this

Saturday we spent our last day visiting with Alice.  We left home about 8:30 am, stopped in Mt. Ida for breakfast at the Mt. Ida Cafe and then headed to Alice’s for the day.  We both got the daily special – 2 bacon, 2 sausage, 2 eggs, 2 biscuits & fried potatoes for $7.99.  We also got some gravy to go with the biscuits.  Great price for a LOT of tasty food.  We’d go back.

Alice’s friend, Connie, is a beautician and has a small shop next to her home.  Alice had an appointment and I asked if she could squeeze me in too…and she could!  I just needed a trim, some layers and a little thinning.  Connie’s very thorough and did a nice job.  She said she cut about 2.5 inches off the length but I’m pretty sure it ended up being quite a bit more than that.  Oh well…I’m set for quite a while now!

Until next time, Mama!

Michael and I cooked an early dinner for Alice and Allicia (granddaughter) – grilled pork tenderloin, ramen and green beans.  Nothing special but it hit the spot and was easy.

About 6:00 pm we said our goodbyes, stopping next door to say goodbye to Michael’s brother, Eddie, too.  The current plan is to be back in mid-April for a while before heading to the Branson rally.  But…plans change and it could be sooner…who knows?!
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Lum & Abner and Queen Wilhelmina

**Remember if you click on a picture the picture will open in a larger window for better viewing!
Tuesday, 9/12

The store, on the left, is in its original location. The museum on the right, was moved from across the street. The post office in the background was moved back just a bit.

I’m not quite old enough to remember to listening to Lum & Abner on the radio…but I do remember hearing of them.

Lum and Abner was a comedy radio show that aired from 1931 to 1954 and was set in fictional Pine Ridge, Arkansas.   Chester Lauck and Norris Goff were the voices of Lum and Abner as well as many other characters on the show.
Pine Ridge was modeled after a small town (Waters) in which Lauck & Goff grew up.  In 1936, the town of Waters officially changed its name to Pine Ridge.
The Lum and Abner Jot ’em Down Store and Museum is an homage to the Lum and Abner days.  The store of today is the original building and dates back to 1909, when Dick Huddleston owned it.  The building that holds the museum was moved from across the road and was a rival store at one time.   Also still standing is the building which held the post office.

Michael chatting with the store owner.

Today Dick Huddleston’s store is known as the Lum & Abner Jot ’em Down Store and sells a small amount of Lum & Abner memorabilia (t-shirts, calendars, CDs, pens, pencils, etc) and also houses a tiny working post office.

The museum (which is smack dab next to the store) houses bits and pieces of the Lum & Abner radio show, movies and every day life in Pine Ridge.  Along one wall of the museum is a bunch of old inventory from the original store….some still in the cellophane it was originally packed in for shipping.  I found that pretty interesting.

Meet Rocky, vicious guard dog!

We roamed around the store and museum for quite a while.  Chatting with the owner.  Petting Rocky, a big old lug of a dog, possibly part basset hound, who guarded the front door.  We ended up purchasing two t-shirts and several CDs so that we can listen to Lum & Abner as we head on down the road.

After our visit to the Lum & Abner site we continued on AR-88 which took us to Mena (pronounced Mean-a) and then we drove along the Talimena Scenic byway through the Queen Wilhelmina State Park and on into Talihina, Oklahoma….roughly 115 miles from home!

Imagine this view with the leaves changing!

It was a pretty drive through the Ouachita Mountains and Forest.  There were a lot of scenic overlooks and we stopped at many of them to check out the views.  Some of the trees are just beginning to turn colors and I can just imagine what the drive would have been like at the height of the ‘colors’ season.

About halfway through the scenic drive, we stopped at the top of Rich Mountain where the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge is located.  The lodge has 40 rooms, starting at $100 per night and just at looking at the gorgeous lobby with its beautiful view it would be an awesome place to stay a few nights.

Queen Wilhelmina Lodge

The Queens Restaurant is on the first floor of the lodge and that’s where we had lunch.  Michael opted for a burger and fries while I went with the soup and salad bar (soups were chicken & dumplings or shrimp gumbo).  Lunch was very good and you can’t help but enjoy the scenery while you eat.

After lunch we continued our journey on the byway and it wasn’t long (less than 10 miles, I think) before we hit the Oklahoma border.  Michael happened to see a small sign for a historic marker so he pulled over.

This little marker caused an awful lot of controversy.

It turned out to be the original milepost that marks the Arkansas-Choctaw Nation boundary, which was placed in 1877.   Apparently the post was originally placed in the wrong location, too far to the west, but left in place.  After many year the Choctaw Nation was compensated for the loss of bout 136,000 acres of land.

What a view and just the start of the Walking Stick encounter!

Further into Oklahoma we pulled off the road at another scenic overlook.  This one was a bit off the road and was also a small picnic area.  Michael got out of the truck to read the signage and just as he turned toward me to show me something, I happened to see a Walking Stick on the sign post.

Meet Mr. Walking Stick (one of MANY!)

It turns out that Michael was going to show me a Walking Stick that was walking on him but when he turned it fell off.  As we looked on the ground for it we noticed several more Walking Sticks walking around…then we saw more…and more.  We had to be careful where we walked or we’d step on them.

Take a GOOD look! This table is COVERED with the little dudes!

Then we happened to see that there were a bunch on a nearby picnic table…..then we looked at the next table and it was covered!  They were ALL over it…hanging from the underside of the table, crawling up the legs, resting on the seats….crawling on the ground.  It was CRAZY!  And a bit creepy too!  After we left I had phantom Walking Sticks walking on my legs for quite a while!

When we got to Talihina, Oklahoma we stopped at a convenience to use the restroom and grab a snack for the 115 or so mile trek back home.

This is what came home to!

The trip back home went much faster than the trip out as we took OK-63 to Mena and then AR-88 to AR-270 to home.  There were no stops at scenic overlooks or historic markers so we were back in Mt. Ida about 5:00 pm.

It was a good day.  We both enjoyed the drive, taking our time to enjoy the views and spending the day together.
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Lots of Visiting & a Class Get Together

Saturday 9/9

We spent the afternoon visiting with Alice at her home.  Michael’s oldest brother, Eddie, and his wife, Val, came over for a short while to visit.  The boys behaved themselves and left politics, religion and any other taboo subject off the table and actually had a very nice visit!

The whole…

Michael put together a get together for his 1982 Caddo Hills High School classmates (and their families) in the evening.   We all got together at the Fish Nest in Glenwood.  They had a very small class of  about 30 and  they 9 were able to make it to this get together (I’m told that this was kind of their ‘clique’.  Several of them even brought their kids or grandkids.

We had a really nice time.  These people are all very welcoming and even though I didn’t go to school with them I’ve been made to feel very welcome.

…and just class of 1982 alumni

The majority of us got the buffet (catfish, clams, shrimp, crab cakes, frog legs, chicken, BBQ pork etc) and a few ordered off the menu.  The food at the Fish Nest is always very good so that’s never an issue.

We’d done something similar back in May of 2014 and they had 9 make it that time too.  You can read about that HERE.

On the way home we made a quick stop at Brock and Tammy’s to pick up some firewood that Brock had offered.  It was also a good time to exchange some goodies.  It’s kind of become a tradition.  LOL  Brock makes delicious jams, jellies, pork sausage etc and always gifts us with some.  We’ve taken to bringing them goodies from our travels.  This time it was Amish noodles, Amish peanut butter, Amish corn cob jelly, Amish corn nuts and yummy Klements sausage from Wisconsin!

Sunday 9/10

We really have a gorgeous view here at Denby Point

A nice, quiet day spent at home.  We spent the majority of the day in our recliners watching TV and surfing the internet.

Our long time friend, Cherie, came by in the afternoon and we spent several hours chatting, catching up and laughing.

Monday 9/11

We were back at Alice’s in the late morning to spend some more time with her.  Then mid-afternoon we headed into Hot Springs and took Alice to the World Buffet Chinese restaurant.  It’s one of her favorites…and mine too!  We had a nice meal while chatting and relaxing.

After driving the 30 or so miles back to Alice’s we hung around for a short while before heading out for the trek home.  We left about 6:00 pm and got home about 7:00 pm…no driving in the dark tonight!

 

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What a Day! Yuck!

Little Rock AFB Commissary

The day started out nicely…and then took turn and crashed and burned!  Not a day either of us want to repeat anytime soon.

We went to the commissary on Little Rock Air Force Base…about 13 or so miles Northwest of Camp Robinson this morning and then took them home, dropped em off and headed back out so that we could go to the movie of the week.

Nice comfy recliners to relax in while watching the movie

This week’s movie was Wind River, kind of a murder mystery.  We enjoyed the movie but it caused a lot of conversation on the way home as we saw a lot of flaws in the story line.  I’m not sure we’ve ever discussed a movie for that long…which actually makes the movie that much better, I guess.

We got home about 3:45 and before we got out of the truck the lodging assistant manager drove up and informed us that we could no longer stay where we were.
It seems that some Lieutenant Colonel decided that a couple of nights was ok..but not the eight that we’d made our reservation for.
We were expected to move to the site that they had originally assigned us to (which was now vacant) tomorrow morning.  However, he knew, good & well, we were to big for the space.
**Just a little note here.  When I made the reservation they didn’t take our contact information OR any information pertaining to the size of the rig…length, number of slides etc.  What kind of campground does that??!  Unless all of your spaces are 100 feet long…which theirs are NOT.
So we went in the house and immediately went to work figuring out our plan of action.  With Michael’s newly acquired America the Beautiful Access Pass we knew we could get into a Corps of Engineer parks for half price so we started searching closer to Mike’s mom in Glenwood.
We found a park, Denby Point, near Mt. Ida, which would put us between Glenwood and our next destination, Mena.
At 4:05 we both went to work packing up and stowing for travel.  We decided we just wanted to leave now rather than tomorrow.  With tomorrow being Friday sites could go quickly, as reservations have to be made at least 3 days in advance…so we’d be taking our chance on a first come, first serve site.
We pulled off post at 4:35 and drove the 90 miles to the campground.  We got a little rush hour traffic as we passed through Little Rock but it wasn’t too bad.
We arrived at the campground about 6:30.  We were given a map and told to go find a site, set up and come back and pay.  The woman mentioned that sites 6 and 42 were on the water and were nice sites. So off we went.
We checked out site 6 first and found a car parked in the site.  Thinking it belonged to the people next door Michael got out and checked it out.  A woman walked up from off somewhere and said it was hers and that this was her site.  She’d just been sent there by the same lady we were.  Nice.
Off we went to the other area of the campground where we’d been directed.  There were a couple of sites along the water and we choose to site 43.  It was a back in and we had to do a LOT of maneuvering to get backed in to it…but after much fussing and complaining we did.
Michael headed up to pay for the site while I stayed home to set up the inside of the house.  As I was putting things in place Michael called to say that the site was reserved.  UGH! Wonderful!
The woman at the gate house never said anything about keeping an eye out for reserved signs and we never saw anything as the reserved sign is on the bottom of the post.  Who looks at the bottom of a post?? Plus it was starting to get dark, which didn’t help.

Denby Point COE park, site 42

The site isn’t reserved until Saturday so we paid for Thursday night and Friday morning we moved to a new site.  It took so us nearly 1.5 hours to get moved to a new site….right next to the original site.  There was much maneuvering back and forth, stopping, checking for trees, talking with the ranger, etc etc etc….but we are now set up in site 42 for the next 10 nights.

We decided to cancel our reservation at a campground in Boardcamp (5 nights) and stay here the entire time.  We’ll just drive to that area to see the things Michael wants to see.
By staying here we’re saving roughly $150.00 over the 2 weeks that we are in Arkansas.  Plus, we’re in a nice campground with a beautiful view of Lake Ouachita.
We drove over to Mike’s mom’s in the afternoon to spend a couple of hours visiting and left about 7:00 and stopped at Bubba Brews on the way home to grab some dinner…a Philly for Michael and chicken fried steak for me.
So after a trying Thursday, Friday has been a brighter day.
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Back to School…

We visited Little Rock Central High School today.  It’s actually a National Historic Site with a visitors center and everything!  You can register to take a tour led by a park ranger that takes you into the historic high school built in 1927, which is still an active high school today with a student body of about 2500.

Woohoo! Another ‘notch’ on our National Parks belt!

We first stopped at the visitor’s center where we stamped our Passport Book and also bought the sticker for the historic site to put in our book.

We roamed around the exhibit area which was very nicely done with lots of hands on activities and full of information and pictures.

The Little Rock Nine

Then we watched the 21 minute video which gave us a good glimpse at what the 9 students went through just to receive a better education than what they would have at their ‘original’ high school.

Our tour guide, Ranger Toni, had been working at the high school for 3 years and was a fountain of information.

I don’t think either Michael or I really knew much about the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock before today.  Certainly we’d heard of it…but didn’t really know the details.

The gas station on the opposite corner from the high school is where the media hung out as they weren’t allowed on school property.

Back then schools were segregated – blacks had their schools and whites had theirs.  The time came to end that in Little Rock in 1957.  There were about 200 black students who volunteered to transfer to Central High School as their was more opportunity for a better education there.

The requirements were very tough and those 200 were whittled down to less that 20 that were accepted.  That number dropped down to even less due to one reason or another and eventually the number was at 10.  That number stuck until the first day of school when they attempted to go to school and their picture was in the paper.  The employer of the child’s parents saw the picture and told the parents that if their child continued they would be fired.  They were now down to nine children integrating into Little Rock’s Central High School.  They are now known as the Little Rock Nine.

Little Rock Central High School

The Little Rock Nine’s integration into Central High school caused riots and degradation for the nine students but they persevered and made it through the school year…with one of them being a senior and graduating.

I am in awe of these kids (ages 14-17).  What courage.  They were spit on.  Had food dumped on them. Yelled at.  Cursed at.  You name it.  All because they wanted a good education and the color of their skin was different.
This was probably one of our favorite National Parks visits and would highly recommend it to anyone interested.   Sign up to take the tour inside the high school too…it helps you to visualize the whole thing as you walk through the halls.
You can read a little more about the desegregation of the school by clicking HERE.

There it is! In all of it’s glory!

We had a dinner date down by the river at  5:00 pm and were early so we walked along the river front and hunted for Little Rock’s Little Rock…and found it!

The rock was originally part of a much larger rock that was blown apart in the late 1800s to make way for the Junction Bridge (a train bridge) which is now a pedestrian bridge.

What you see now is just the tip of the original rock that someone saved and eventually a plaque was bolted to it and has now become the landmark that it is!

The Junction Bridge as seen from ‘The Rock’.

The rock sits in a pretty little park-like area along the riverfront, beside the Junction Bridge.  We found a park bench in the shade and enjoyed the views of the river and beautiful weather.  We’ve certainly been blessed with gorgeous weather while we’ve been here in Arkansas.

The restaurant that we were meeting friends at for dinner for dinner was just a few blocks away so we had just a short walk.  The Flying Fish was a restaurant I’d found by using Yelp.  It had really good reviews and was a little different than the places we normally go to.

Our dinner companions, Prentiss and Victoria

We’d been contacted by Victoria a week or so ago when she found out we’d be in the area and asked if we wanted to get together…of course!  She and Prentiss are working as gate attendants at a Corps of Engineers park nearby.

We know Victoria and Prentiss from gate guarding.  While I’ve met Victoria and Michael had met Prentiss at luncheons…I’d never met Prentiss and Michael and never met Victoria.

Michael’s frog legs…

Our dinner turned into 3+ hours full of conversation and laughter.  We have so much in common  – gate guarding, camphosting, RVing, military, etc that the conversation flowed very easily.

….my jumbo shrimp

We all agreed that the food was delicious.  We all ordered different meals, however.  Prentiss went with oysters, Victoria had salmon, Michael had frog legs and I had jumbo shrimp.  Another place to recommend…if/when you’re in Little Rock…Go!

Just a small portion of the Bill Bass display

The Flying Fish is also the home to the Billy Bass Adoption Center.  You’ll find TONS of those darn irritating talking fish hung on the walls within the restaurant.  Thank goodness the batteries have all been removed!  (Michael tried!)  While we were there we even witnessed two men who brought in their very own Bill Basses to be adopted by the restaurant.  Awwww…

 One wall of the restaurant is labeled the Liar’s Wall which is filled with fishermen and their ‘fish pics’. People bring in pics of their ‘BIG’ catch…some happen to be really big…others not so much.
After walking back to where our truck was parked (just a few blocks away) and driving back to Camp Robinson we were home shortly after 9:00 pm.  It was a GOOD day.
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Travel Day: Scott AFB, IL To Camp Robinson, AR

Tuesday 9/5/17

About 8:00 pm last night we got a pretty good little rain storm.  It came down pretty hard for quite a while and few times we thought we were getting some hail.  Still not 100% sure it wasn’t just stuff fall off the trees.

My view while Michael dumped the tanks. I think I win!

It rained so heavy that when I pulled in the slides this morning we had huge waterfalls cascade off of the slide toppers!  There was a LOT of water!

Ugh!  A LONG travel day for us today!   Roughly 370 miles from start to finish…more than we care for, for sure, but it really wasn’t far enough to split into 2 days either.

With a long day ahead of us we got pretty much all of our move day chores done yesterday so all we had to do this morning was hitch up, head over to the dump station, drop off the garbage and pull out.

Michael took care of dumping the tanks

Our goal was to pull out of our site about 7:00 am and we ended up pulling out before 7:00 and were leaving the dump station at 7:08 am…not bad, eh?

Just down the road from the FamCamp is a small family cemetery that we’d first seen the day we arrived and decided we needed to check it out before we left.  We’d forgotten about it until this morning as we were passing by.  Michael pulled over on the side of the road and we had a little early morning adventure.

The Perschbacher and Rossell Family Cemtery is small and goes back to 1847.  It sits on a hilltop beneath a big ol’ tree with roughly a dozen graves most of which have lost their markers and been replaced by white wooden crosses.

The grave of Patriarch John Perschbacher

The land where the cemetery sits once belonged to John Perschbacher and his family.  The small cemetery was built on the farm as it was cheaper and also was easier for family members to visit.

The only two graves that still have their tombstones are John and Susan Rossell, the wife of Thomas Rossell.  It’s uncertain the connection between the Perschbacher and Rossell families and why the Rossell family is buried on the Perschbacher land.  Interesting.

Got a pretty cool picture of the Arch from the Busch Stadium area

We pulled out of Scott Air Force Base at 7:31 am and headed west toward St. Louis.  We ended up missing an exit in St. Louis and took a brief tour of downtown St. Louis….right past Busch Stadium.  LOL Heck…what’s a few extra miles when you’re already putting on over 370!?!?

About 100 miles down the road we made a potty stop and found that diesel was $2.28 per gallon so we made sure to fill up both tanks.  We’re hearing of rising fuel prices in Texas and even shortages and outages so we’ll fill up as often as we can when we find good prices.

Kelly’s Kitchen location of the day. How nice is that?

We stopped at the Arkansas Welcome Center to enjoy some lunch.  What a gorgeous day for a picnic! Sunny, light breeze and 72.  Oh yeah!

The special of the day at Kelly’s Kitchen was PB&J and fritos…an old family favorite!  We even topped it off with a frosted sugar cookie for dessert.  Delicious!  🙂

As usual, our stop was about an hour-long and we were back on the road feeling rejuvenated and ready to finish out the remaining 170 miles of our trip.

Nice road with lots of scenery! My favorite!

Between St. Louis and Little Rock we traveled along US 67, which turned out to be a really nice drive.  I got my scenery while Michael got his four lanes for the majority of the drive.

The drive was nice and quiet with little traffic and we moved pretty freely.  After we  hit the Arkansas border we went down to two lanes for a while…but it was still quite enjoyable.  We eventually went back to four lanes for the remainder of the drive.

We arrived at Camp Robinson at 4:08 pm and had no problem finding the gate or getting on post. However, we did have a problem finding the lodging office.  The directions we were given were pretty vague.  We ended up driving out to the campground, as we knew were it was…kind of hoping to find someone who could tell us how to get where we needed to go.  No such luck…but we did notice that it didn’t look like there were no empty sites in the campground.  Hmmmm

As I was on the phone trying to get a hold of the lodging office again (they’re been no answer since we’d arrived on post) and was no on hold a gentleman drove up and offered to show us where the office was…so we followed him.

To make a very long story short…we found out that the people in our site decided to stay another day so our site wouldn’t be available tonight…but it would be tomorrow.

The assistant manager was very apologetic and wanted to right the wrong in any way he could.  He tried to put us in a site of someone who didn’t show this weekend but would be arriving within the next few days…however, when we went to that site someone was in it.  Oops.

While we were there checking that site out Michael and the assistant manager went to look at the site that we were to be assigned…site 8.  Unfortunately, that spot wasn’t big enough to hold us and there were no other sites available.

Our home for the next nights! Site A1 – Camp Robinson Lodging Parking Lot.

One of the options for us when we thought we just needed a place to park overnight was that there was room in the lodging parking lot with 110 power available.  Michael and the assistant manager talked (I stayed in the truck so I didn’t show my attitude, which was not the best at that point) and ended up agreeing that we would just park in the parking lot for out entire stay…free of charge.

So in the end we set up in the parking lot.  The location isn’t as bad as it sounds.  The parking lot is a big square with small lodging buildings (motel-like buildings) on three sides of the square.  There are only about half a dozen people inhabiting those buildings, at this point, it seems.  So it’s actually pretty quiet here.

There are 2 other buildings just like this one on the other 2 sides of the square…and we make up the 4th side of the square.

I have no issue with where we’re parked.  I have no issue with not being hooked up to water or if we can survive 8 days with no sewer.  But…I do have a concern about only having 110 power.  That means no ac…in Arkansas.  Thankfully, right now it’s cool enough…52 when we got up and the windows are all open. Oh well…I guess we’ll see how it goes.  We have a generator and can crank it up if needed to cool off the inside of the coach.

After getting settled into our cozy parking lot spot we went in search of food.  I had planned to have pork lo mein for dinner and had even chopped everything up.  But, since it was National Cheese Pizza Day Michael got a hankering for pizza and couldn’t get it out of his head.

We ended up finding Larry’s Pizza which was about 5 miles from post and had good reviews.   I wasn’t really expecting much but I was hungry, tired and crabby so we went with it.

We were both very surprised.  First of, it’s a buffet, kinda like a CiCi’s….but…they walk around the entire restaurant with hot fresh pizza’s and serve them to you if you want some.  They’re motto is ‘Home of the pipin’ hot pizza parade’ and they’re not kidding!

After they’ve gone around the entire dining room with a pizza whatever is left goes up on the buffet for anyone that wants more.  We tried several kinds of pizza – baked potato, buffalo chicken, meat lovers, pepperoni, cheese, etc…and they were all really good.  They also have quite a few different dessert pizzas – apple, cherry, peach, snickerdoodle, chocolate chip cookie, banana cream, Bavarian cream…and that’s just a FEW.  And if that’s not enough they have a really nice salad bar too!

We ended up getting home around 7:30 pm and just did some chillin’ for the rest of the night…never even turned the TV on.

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White Haven & Sweetie Pies

Sunday, September 3rd.

Our one and only sight-seeing day in this area.  We left home about 11:00 am as we were only visiting one place and then having lupper out.

The drive took us over the Mississippi River, by the Arch and past downtown St. Louis.  The U.S. Grant National Historic Site is roughly 13 miles southwest of downtown St. Louis.

Our destination was the U.S. Grant Historic Site.  When we turned on to the road that the historic site is located it took us almost 30 minutes to go 1/4 of a mile due to traffic from Grants Farm, which is just beyond the historic site.

Crazy ridiculous traffic

Grants Farm is a free animal farm run by Anheuser-Bush, although it costs $12.00 to park.  Hordes of people flock to the park.  The parking lot is on one side of the road and the park is on the opposite side.  So everyone that visits has to cross the road at least twice which stops traffic at least twice….now multiply that by the gazillion people that visit.

There are parking monitors that stop traffic to allow people to cross the road to get to the park or back to the parking lot which back traffic up.  It’s crazy.  We were told it’s like that all the time.  We’re thinking they need to figure out a new system to get people across the road rather than holding up traffic for so long.  Yikes.

One of the traffic monitor told us it’s best to get their as close to opening time as possible.  Some day we may give it a shot.

Passport Book with stamp & postcard pic along with Mikey’s Access Pass

When we finally got parked at the historic site we went inside and the first thing we did was to get Michael his America the Beautiful Access Pass.  The Access Pass is free of charge to U.S. Citizens with permanent disabilities.  You must show proof of permanent disability (we took Michael’s VA letter showing his service related disabilities).

We also stamped our Passport book and bought a postcard with a picture of the U.S. Grant Historic Site to put in the book.

Informative video about General/President Grant

We had a little more than half an hour before the next house tour was to start so we decided to watch the 22 minute video that had started about 4 minutes before.

I found the video pretty interesting…some of the videos at this places can be kinda blah.  But this one captured my attention and held it.  Thankfully, it had closed captioning too…Michael could hear most of what was said but used the closed captioning as a back up.

White Haven w/outbuildings in back

The home at the historic site is called White Haven and was originally owned by Julia Dent Grant’s parents and is where Ulysses and Julia first met in 1844.  They eventually lived in the home with their children and Julia’s father from 1854 to 1859 after he left the military, the first time.  He would eventually return to the military in April 1861 and less than a month later he was promoted to Brigadier General! That’s some fast rank climbing!  I’ll bet our son, Captain Barnett, would like to move up in the ranks that quickly!

The summer kitchen…check out the ceiling beams

The ranger gave us all the facts about the house, Grants military career, presidency, etc while we stood outside White Haven and then let us loose to roam the first floor while he waited for us on the back porch.  It’s not a large home, by any means.  There wasn’t much in the way of the furnishings as they were put into storage when the Grant’s left the home and the home that they were stored in burned.

We also were allowed into the office at the back of the house and the summer kitchen which is located beneath the house.

An ice house and a chicken house are located behind the home and still stand today.

Horse Barn (museum) on the right and the Visitor’s Center on the left

Walking back toward the Visitor’s Center is the original horse barn that was moved to it’s current location several years ago and now houses a museum.

The museum has a few artifacts but is mostly made up of some pictures, plaques and stories.  I’m not against reading, by any means…I’m a book lover.  But a museum filled with ‘read this, read that’ mostly gets kinda boring.  Michael’s back was bothering him so we didn’t spend a whole lot of time there.

After finishing up at the historic site we headed back toward downtown St. Louis where we planned to have lupper at Sweetie Pies, a soul food restaurant originally opened in 1996 and featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives in 2008 or so.

Sweetie Pie’s on Delmar

The Sweetie Pie’s location (there are several across the country) we went to is right down town and I was a bit concerned about finding parking but we had no issue as the entire street that the restaurant is on is pretty much dedicated to Sweetie Pie’s.

The line once we got INSIDE

When we arrived there were about a dozen people on the street in line.  However, the line stretched into the restaurant for quite a way.  We ended up waiting about an hour before we got done going through the cafeteria style line and were seated at a table.  The wait really didn’t end up feeling as long as it was…the only part that really bothered us was that we were both hungry…me to the point of starting to feel sick to my stomach.

The restaurant is cafeteria-style with dishes that are featured every day and then certain things that are only served on certain days.

Cafeteria style line goes fairly quick once you get to order

Today’s offerings:  Meatloaf, fried chicken wings, baked chicken, pork steak with gravy, roast beef, turkey legs.  Mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, collards, yams, rice, black eyed peas, macaroni & cheese.  And desserts:  Caramel cake, coconut cake buttermilk custard pie, pear cobbler, peach cobbler and banana pudding.

The fried chicken wings are VERY popular and responsible for the hold in the line quite often as they run out of them and people stand in line waiting for them.  We had considered ordering them but when it came our turn to order there were already about 8 or 10 people waiting for more wings to be brought out.

Instead we scooted ahead of them in line and ordered something else.

Baked chicken, mac & cheese, black-eyed peas and cornbread

Michael had baked chicken, black-eyed peas and macaroni & cheese.  While I had roast beef, yams, rice and gravy and green beans.  Each meal came with either a dinner roll or corn bread.  We each got dessert too!  Pear cobbler for Mikey and buttermilk custard pie for me…each were something neither of us had ever had before.

Both of our meals were delicious.  Everything was perfectly seasoned, tender and delicious.  Even our desserts…oh. my. goodness.  Good stuff.

Now for the not so politically correct portion of this blog post.

Roast Beef, rice & gravy, yams and green beans

Out of all of the people (TONS) at the restaurant we saw only one other white person and four Hispanics (that were customers) the entire time we were there.  It felt a bit odd but…who cares?  We’re all human, have red blood and were created by the same being.  We were welcomed and had a good time chatting with some young ladies right behind us in line.

The only reason I mention this is I want to HIGHLY recommend visiting Sweetie Pie’s but if you are uncomfortable in such an atmosphere you should probably skip this place….but I sure hope you don’t as it was worth every minute we waited…and then some.

By the way…we finished the entire Sons of Anarchy Series on Saturday.  If you EVER get the chance to watch it…do.  We both loved it.

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Heartland Family & A Fine Swine

We had a nice lazy morning!  And it felt SO good.  It was just 52 when I got up about 7:30 and it felt wonderful to cover up with the ‘minkie’ blanket that Zack brought back for me from Korea last year.

Ahhh….MUCH better!

We had bacon eggs, biscuits and gravy for breakfast (yum!) and watched a bunch of shows from the DVR. We’ve kind of neglected the recorded shows on the DVR since we’ve been absorbed with watching Sons of Anarchy…just 3 episodes left to watch!

We left home about 2:00 pm to do a little exploring around Scott Air Force Base.  We drove around the back side of the air strip which took us almost exactly where we wanted to go (the map we were given is very hard to read!).

The BX/PX is what we were looking for so that Michael could get a MUCH needed haircut.  Wait time was minimal and we were in and out in 30 minutes or so.

Then we took a stroll around the PX and ended up with a candle that was on clearance, some chocolate and three 12 packs of Coke Zero (not the new stuff).

We had a 5:00 pm dinner date in New Baden so we headed that way (about 10 miles east).  Michael found diesel for $2.54 per gallon so he filled up both tanks.  The further south we get, who knows what the prices will be so we’ll fill up whenever we find a decent price.

My cousin, Jason,  recommended we try A Fine Swine while we’re in the area.  So we planned on going there today.  Yesterday, while we were traveling I got a message from one of our Heartland family, Kathy asking if we’d like to go out for dinner as they don’t live very far from the base.  Kathy and her husband, Kenny, agreed to meet us at the restaurant for dinner.

Kenny & Kathy

We’ve been friends on Facebook for quite a while but have never really had a chance to sit down, in person, and really get to know each other so this was the perfect opportunity!  We really had a nice time getting to know both Kathy and Kenny.  As usual, our dinner stretched out about 2 hours.

I’m looking forward to spending more time with Kenny & Kathy down the road as I’m sure we’ll cross paths at some rally, somewhere, at some time in the future.

Meats: Brisket, chicken, pulled pork & ribs

As for our meal:  Michael and I each order a sampler plate – pulled pork, chicken, brisket and ribs, and then ordered some sides to try – green beans, baked beans cole slaw and piggy puppies.  Everything was good…some we enjoyed more than others.

Sides: Piggy Puppies, green beans, baked beans & cole slaw

Neither of us cared for the chicken.  We found it undercooked and tough. Pork was good.  The ribs could have been a tad more tender but were good.  I enjoyed the brisket a lot…Michael thought it needed to cook a bit longer.  The cole slaw was really good.  Baked beans were ok.  Green beans were ok.  The piggy puppies (kinda of a hushpuppy filled with cheese, pulled pork and bbq sauce) were ok…but a bit too spicy for my liking.

We got home about 7:15 pm, giving us plenty of time to watch a couple of episodes of Sons of Anarchy….leaving us just ONE episode left in the entire 7 year series!  Whatever will we do with our time once it’s over?!?!

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Travel Day: Camp Atterbury, IN To Scott AFB, IL

It’s moving day!

Only about 250 some odd miles to travel to Scott Air Force Base today.  Scott is in Belleville, Illinois and is about 25 miles east of St. Louis.

The first 40 miles of today’s drive looked like this…

After 6+ years of full-timing, our moving day chores go pretty smoothly and the biggest majority of them are usually done the day before we move.  I even usually put our destination in the GPS the day before so there’s no need to the morning of departure.

Since we’re finally going back to central time we took that into consideration when we decided what time to pull out.  We always plan for at least an hour stop for lunch at Kelly’s Kitchen so with the 250 miles we had to travel, the lunch stop and the time change we decided we didn’t have to be in any hurry and opted to shoot for a 10:00 am departure.

…and then we hit the interstate. Yuck

After breakfast, I did clean up and stowed any remaining stuff and Michael went outside to take down the satellite dish, dump tanks and unhook power and water.  Once everything was stowed we proceeded to hitch up.  Michael makes sure the hitch is in the proper position and then backs the truck while I raise & lower the coach so that it lines up with the hitch, attach the brake line and umbilical cord.

Then once the hitch is locked in place, I check the air in the hitch and add any if needed.  Once done, Michael does a pull test and I move to the back of the coach so that we can do a light check.  I use hand signals to let Michael know which lights are on and working.  Then it’s just a matter of me hopping in the truck and hitting the road.

We ended up pulling out of the Whitaker Place Campground on Camp Atterbury (after a 1 month stay) just about 10:00 am on the dot.  We REALLY enjoyed our stay in this area and are already talking about coming back.  It probably won’t be next summer but hopefully the following year.

Hats off to Walmart!

We made a potty stop at the IL Welcome Center and theyre was 4 Walmart trucks there that had passed us earlier.

I stopped and talked with 3 of the drivers and was told they were all on their way to Houston to ‘help out.’. If that doesn’t do your heart good, nothing will.

Today’s Kelly’s Kitchen location

We also made a stop at Kelly’s Kitchen which turned out to be an old closed down gas station that had plenty of room for us.  We’d planned at stopping at a rest area but when we approached it we found that it was closed and under construction so we just took the next exit (my Next Exit book told me what was there) and found a place to park.

Sleepyhead

Michael cranked up the genny so that we could recline our recliners and I put together lunch.  We even stayed a little longer than normal as Michael took an impromptu nap!

Site 13 – Scott AFB FamCamp

We arrived at the at the Scott Air Force Base FamCamp about 3:30 pm and got backed into our site WAY faster than normal these days.  LOL  We’re in site 13 (is that good or bad!?!?) with no one on our off door side.  The site is actually kinda tight but we can make anywhere home…and this is just for 4 nights.

The FamCamp only has 22 sites total and most are pretty small.  Each site has water and 20/50 amp but there is a dump station.  For $20 a night…we can deal.
By 4:30 pm I had the oven pre-heating for dinner (Pasties) and Michael had the satellite dish just about squared away.  Afterward we had plenty of time for a couple of episodes of Sons of Anarchy.
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