Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Joy of Road Trip Small Pleasures

I’ve been absent from here because we have been on a roadtrip in our little RV.  I have been collecting pictures and thinking about what I will share but until then, I want to comment on a recent post by Ronni Bennett on her blog Time Goes By.

I have followed Ronni’s blog for many years.  She is honest and articulate in her descriptions of life as an elder and life as a survivor of pancreatic cancer.   While many of her essays are about these serious subjects, this linked post is about what she considers her own simple pleasures.  I enjoyed her list as well as watching the little video she has included.

In the end, though, it was the name of her post that caught my eye as I think about our recent road trip. 

We were gone for right at two weeks to the Phoenix area and places between.  All of those nights and a lot of our days were spent in a 20 foot, self contained, converted van.   I have often wondered how many couples could spend that much time together in that small of a space.  It has not been something that we have developed recently.  We started with traveling in small spaces when we had a Venture van—what we called our adVentures.  We like the idea of stopping where ever we like, making up the bed and going to sleep.   I’ll start my list of road trip small pleasures with our Pleasure Way van.

Just because we like to travel small does not mean I will pass on a life time pleasure.  Like Ronni, I love a hot shower.  We may not stay in a formal campground every night, but when we do, I appreciate campgrounds with clean, hot showers.  I commend this Nation’s Federal parks for most often providing these clean facilities with most State Parks not far behind.

Another road trip pleasure are the small town city parks that welcome overnight campers often for free.  We have stayed at these little surprises many times over the years.  Just several nights ago, the sun had gone down and we were on I 40 in that no man’s land in eastern New Mexico approaching Texas.  We jumped off the interstate at very small town.  And, there was a little park that had a camp for free sign.  It’s like a little gift from the friendly people who live in a mostly boarded up town on old Route 66.

We consider it a  small pleasure to get to know the camp hosts that watch over the campgrounds.  They are friendly, helpful and always ready for a conversation.  Linda and her husband at the Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction should win an award for the best camp hosts ever!

Finally, we consider it a small pleasure to find interesting, scenic and sometimes just odd things on the trails we go on with our always present bikes.  It might be a cemetery in an unusual place, a place to buy pop or ice cream with just a box to drop money, an unusual geocache or unusual yard art.  It might not be a National monument or beautiful work of art, but just coming across something unexpected that brings a small pleasure.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Little Cheer on an Icy Day

I say geraniums and most think summer and outside planters.  The thing is, if there is a south window with lots of sun, they will keep blooming all winter.  I get the best results if I cut them back a bit in early fall so they don’t get lanky as they are starting to do in the picture.  There is one drawback as is apparent in the picture, they leave little red peddles all over the floor all winter.  Totally worth it to have these cheery flowers non stop from the time we bring them in. 


In the upper part of the picture there is another plant that isn’t too clear.  Here is another winter surprise.  And, I guess it feels spring in the air because it is now covered with blooms.  It looks like a lime, but it is a lemon.  If I let it turn yellow, it is over ripe. 


Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of my violets blooming.  I’ve given starts to several friends and their plants are blooming like crazy—mine are growing but no blooms.  I repotted them last summer and I think they are still getting used to their new digs.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself because  I’m a little prideful about my violets. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Chocolate Wine Trail 2018

Could there be a better weekend than to spend it with good friends, good wine and chocolate?  I don’t think so. 

This was one of those plans that began with, “we should” but instead of what usually happens in those times,  we acted, ordering our tickets for this popular Hermann MO wine trail before Christmas.  It was a great idea.

We seldom travel without taking our trusty PW, February and freezing temperatures included.  That means we managed without the water system—easier than one might imagine.  We also were able to plug in at the Hermann City Campground. We ran our little electric heater and stayed warm at 70 degrees.  Saturday morning was a surprise, though.


By the time Ray and Carole picked us up at 9:30, the snow was beginning to melt. Wine and Chocolate awaited so we decided to visit the outlying destinations first.  Bias Winery served Gooey Black Bottom Cupcakes paired with River Mist.  In the end, this pairing was unanimously our favorite.  It might have helped that we were the first there and they were still warm!  We were determined to make the day last, so we broke out the Wine Trail cards and began our two day marathon of playing “Sevens.” 

It was getting close to lunch and Robller’s Winery at New Haven has lots of room and a nice fireplace.  We picked up our Mexican Chocolate Mole paired with Gabrielle’s Blush.  Interesting use of chocolate.  We also added crackers, cheese, olives and another bottle of wine and more cards.  Robert, the owner and winemaker at Robller’s came by our table several times.  He is always interesting with lots of history and information about his winery and others in the area. 

On to OakGlenn Winery where we were served Red Pasta and Chocolate paired with Norton.  OakGlenn has a beautiful location.  No cards this stop, just pictures.


We ended the day at Stone Hill.  Their White Chocolate Mousse with a Vignoles Cherry Sauce served in a dark chocolate shell paired with Vignoles was delicious and was a close contender for first.  There was a table just right for more cards in their atrium. 

Can you believe  all four of us in our little camper?  I mixed up Chicken Noodle Soup—with more wine—and it tasted about right after all the chocolate.  Ray and Carole went on to their motel because I think they were getting claustrophobic.  We watched “Bucket List”  A good movie for travel.

The wine trail began an hour later on Sunday morning, so we ate breakfast at the local diner.  My pancakes were delicious.  Then on to Dierberg Star Lane Tasting Room.  Dierberg is a California wine owned by Hermannhof.  The wine was delicious with their Chocolate Torta Soffice. 

Next door is Hermannhof Winery where we enjoyed White Chocolate and Toffee Blondie paired with Germantown wine.  Another excellent offering that was near the top.  Hermannhof had a nice fire going and plenty of empty tables so we played more Sevens.  Before leaving we asked permission to poke around their cellars.  Actually they are quite beautiful.


The final winery was Adam Puchta were we were served Chocolate Chip Scone with Brie Cheese and Berry Black Reduction paired with Berry Black wine.  I like scones so I thought this was very good. I think it would have been better the day before—the scone was a little dry. 

We wanted to pick up a little wine at Stone Hill so it was back to playing cards in their atrium and eating a late lunch with crackers and cheese.  Ray won the final round of cards that had a $5 bill on it. 

We left the Hermann area by 4:00 pm with no problems on the road.  Hermann Missouri is only a four-hour drive and we always have fun there.  We wondered on the way home how many times we’ve been there.  I’ll have to count sometime.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentines Day!

I overheard a friend at a meeting this morning say that she had a busy day because she was headed to her daughter's Valentines Party this afternoon.  I remember those parties well, our kids and grandkids.  Even though it's been 60 some years ago, I remember our little grade school parties clearly.

Of course, I've mentioned before that Dan and I went to the same grade school--a one room, rural school with 12 to 18 kids and one teacher.  Valentines Day was always fun as was any celebration.  With so few kids, we celebrated everything.  The poor teacher probably needed the break.

Today, I spent a little time digging through a box of old things in the basement.  I found the Valentine I was looking for.  Two things were a little different than I remembered.  First, the Valentine was to "Linda Gfeller" from "Danny Hanney."  Writing the last names is funny because, as I said, we were all neighbors and knew each other from birth.  Second,  the writing is Dan's mother's.  So, I'll have to hang on the thought that Dan picked out this cute little card just for me and his Mom wrote on it for him.  He says he doesn't remember--doesn't sound good for special thoughts from Dan but his Mom always liked me so that makes me feel good too.    

Friday, February 09, 2018

Valentine Candy Hearts

Does anyone else like these candy hearts?  I always buy a bag and eat most of them myself.  The little sayings are fun, but I actually like the taste even though I am not sure what is in them (read below) They are manufactured by Necco which also make these
which I also find delicious.  They can be hard to find, but Cracker Barrel consistently has them in stock.

I came upon an article today entitled "9 Things You Didn't Know About Valentine Candy Hearts"  In case you don't want to take the time, I'll summarize.

1.  They date back to 1866.  
2.  One of the first messages was, "Send a Lock of Hair by Return Mail"  I think this was more of a fortune cookie type message, but still...
3.  There were originally shaped like scallop shells
4.  They were originally popular wedding treats before becoming popular during Valentines Day
5.  The Heart shape took off in 1902.  Some of the original sayings KISS ME, SWEET TALK, and  BE MINE have been in circulation for over 100 years.
6.  They change the messages every year. Messages like DIG ME and GROOVY are definitely from another era.  Here are a few past messages.  My personal favorite is LOVE, which I think has been around since I was a kid.  I think Dan might have gave me one in grade school!
7.  They will keep up to five years.  Got to wonder.....
8.  Necco produces enough every year that everyone on the planet could have one.
9.  They will dance in a can of soda.  

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Tree Stump

Dan has talked about working on this mulberry tree for a long time.  Unfortunately, we did not take a "before" picture of this remarkable tree.  Remarkable in that the original tree had  been sawed off years ago.  The stump was left without any further treatment.  This video shows the results.  I counted ten different shoots off the original trunk that had grown into independent trees.

 I didn't remove the tractor noise.  There is snow on the ground now and more to be expected tomorrow.  I think we will have a big fire either tomorrow or Wednesday while we have the snow and try to get rid of what is a big pile of brush since this video was taken..

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Eclipse Twofer

Last August we actually did a roadtrip to Missouri for the solar eclipse, which due to my lack of blog posts can be seen by scrolling down.  It was a great last minute decision.

Just to make sure I didn’t oversleep for the super moon eclipse yesterday, 01-31-2018, I set two alarms.  I even programed the coffee to be done so I could watch out our bedroom window with a cup o’ joe.  It was impressive, but not nearly as much fun as several months ago.  Here are the best of my attempts at getting a photo. 

Through the bedroom window with what I think is a tree branch.  Shows some of the “blood” color.


Stepped outside on the deck hoping for a clearer view but not as interesting.

P1000793Just about gone

P1000825-001Finally, in this picture, I set the camera on automatic and it changed somehow to a daylight view and this actually was the full eclipse. 


Monday, January 29, 2018

Man’s Best Friend

We’ve had many dogs over the years.  They’ve all been special especially our last Skylor the Boxer.  We’ve made the decision not to get another dog while we are traveling.  A lot of people travel with pets, but our little PW is barely big enough for the two of us.  It would also be different if our kids lived nearby. 

I mentioned Laura Kitty a few days ago.  She was trapped and nurtured in Kansas City.  Usually these cats are released back to their neighborhood to help keep rodents in check.  Laura Kitty came to us instead.  She is still very jumpy.  I only have to clap my hands and she takes off.  She is not a house cat, but this time of year, we open the kitty door into Dan’s shop at night.  During the day, we open the shop door and she slips in to lay in a chair by the stove. 

She is not supposed to come upstairs.  I was watching the news at noon and  I looked over and here’s what I saw. 


She adores Dan.  I’ll look outside and there she is following him around.  He feeds her and until Boots came around, he was her main person.  Dan is sound asleep in this picture but I told him I wouldn’t put that picture on the internet.  I had to show this cropped one, dirty work jeans and all.  Too cute.

Friday, January 26, 2018

"Humble Hero"

Jerry Schemmel is the radio announcer for Baseball’s Colorado Rockies.  Before that he was the play-by-play announcer for NBA Denver Nuggets.  He has been involved in sports media since the 1980’s.  He played baseball at Washburn University in Topeka, then graduated with a law degree from from there.  He has bicycled across America, across Colorado and completed triathlons and marathons.

He also survived the crash-landing of United Airlines Flight 232 on July 19 1989 in Sioux City Iowa.

His book, Chosen to Live:  The Inspiring Story of Flight 232 tells the story.

Schemmel traveled from Denver last weekend to present his impactful and emotionally charged presentation.  There were over 200 in attendance including the entire 2018 baseball team from Washburn.  Jerry Schemmel’s story is one that I will not forget.

In July 1989, Jerry Schemmel was on Flight 232 with his best friend, Jay Ramsdell.  The crew had just served lunch when there was a loud explosion.  The passengers had over 40 minutes to prepare for what was to follow.  During that time, they comforted each other and prepared themselves for the possibility of not surviving.   Miraculously, 184 survived, but 112 died including his friend Jay. 

Jerry told us he was not injured significantly which enabled him to go back into the aircraft and rescue a baby.  He was able to help others after the initial crash of the aircraft.
And, in the end, he was injured more than he knew with post traumatic stress disorder.  His Spiritual journey is ongoing.  He told us his life was changed forever.  The following video tells more.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Two authors share their story

I have a great admiration for writers. I have an even greater admiration for those who are able to write about something in their life which has caused a great deal of emotional pain and sadness. In the past two weeks, we have had the opportunity to hear two authors talk about books they felt inspired to write after having had almost unbelievable sorrow.   First,

Farewell, My Freebird by Carol Noe

Keith and Carol Noe lived in the Los Angeles area of California with their daughter Angela and her three brothers. Angela was an outgoing, beautiful young lady with many friends. She always said she wanted to be a Freebird. It was during her teen years that her life changed. This is what Carol wrote on the cover of her book:

“A Mother's story of her daughter's life in the dark world of drugs and prostitution...and the phone call that changed their family forever."

Keith and Carol were guests at our Stull UMC book group and openly shared their struggles with Angela's addictions, her attempts at reform, her descent into prostitution and eventually her murder on April 28, 1987 in the San Francisco area of California.

Their struggles did not end when the murderer was found. All of us at the gathering could not believe how the court system in California regarded a man who had killed several, including Angela, yet was due to be let out of prison.   The book gives a realistic  look into the California court system. 

The Noe's lovingly talk about their three boys, their families and grandchildren, And, they find comfort in their Spiritual life and how it has led them to share Angela's story through the book including Angela's poems she wrote throughout her short life.

Unbelievably, it was an uplifting evening. I think I can say that we all felt their struggles through their words, but also know they found sharing their story healing. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Winter Day in Kansas

WINTER DAY IN KANSAS from Linda Hanney on Vimeo.

Lately I’ve been thinking about doing more video production.  It’s something different and it’s  kind of fun. 

I decided to  video the animals that visited our “food plots” around the house yesterday and today.  Dan puts out grain for the birds and deer and we have a window in our bedroom that looks out over the food plot so it’s easy to set on the bed and watch.  I was hoping the deer would come up when there was more light to film them than you will see in the video.  I wasn’t too happy when Boots appeared from under the tree.  I’m hoping he got a field mouse rather than a bird or bunny.  (For those who are wondering if we got another cat—no, we think Boots is feral but makes an appearance fairly regularly around here anymore—Laura Kitty tolerates him, we can’t get anywhere close)

Our neighbor lost a calf several days ago so that’s what the Eagle is dining on.  There were actually two Eagles but my little video camera couldn’t move fast enough to get the second one. 

Also, it has gotten too late to start over, so you will just have to put up with the music.  

Monday, January 15, 2018

Just Looking

No, we are not looking to replace our 2003 PW.  It is hard to believe because she is 15 years old.  This is when she was new to us in 2013

We really do enjoy traveling in our little Class B van conversion  Pleasure Way motor home. It is right at 20 feet long--well within the length that fits into a regular parking spot and maneuverable in traffic.

However, we are always interested in looking at the newest rig  whether it is driving through campgrounds or perusing through a RV Show that pop up in most big cities around the country.   There was a show in Colorado Springs the last time we were out there where we found a small van conversion that we would love to have if we had an extra $120,000 laying around.

Kansas City hosted their annual show at Bartle Hall last Thursday thru Sunday.  We made the hour drive east on Saturday, wondering why we didn't go on a less busy day.  After we finally found a parking place about six blocks away, we arrived to find two lines to get tickets, both wrapped clear around the lobby.  I just happened to overhear someone say there was a mobile line.  Hardly any wait and they texted tickets to our phone.    

First, we found a map of the displays after barely slipping by the guy who was trying to convince us we needed a water filter.   There are two types of RV we are always most interested in--Class B and pickup campers.  After twice going over the entries, we could not believe neither type was in the show. With no other choice, we wandered  through the mostly 30 to 40 foot plus pull trailers, fifth wheels and motor homes which seems to be where the RV industry is going right now.  Although, here is a comparison of two surveys we have taken on trips home from Colorado Springs on I70 where we counted all RVs we saw. (Clicking on the picture makes it easier to read)
People want to drive a contained unit and tow a car or hitch up behind their full sized pickup or SUV a unit that has a livingroom with full entertainment center, a full kitchen with compressor refrigerator (more on that later), a bedroom with a second television and enough storage that entire closets could be taken on a trip.  I kept asking Dan, why do people want to pull a livingroom, or for that matter a bedroom, down the road on vacation?  Don't they want to be outside? I mean--some of these units had fireplaces!  All good if heading south for the winter, but even then the total cost could approach a second home.

There were two popup trailers on display--the kind where you have a tent on wheels. These also appeal to us, although in our old age, we like a toilet at night. Those two tent trailers were the only units that had a three-way refrigerator which is one that does not need electricity to stay cold.  All the rest had compressor refrigerators which require plugging in to electricity each night to keep food cold--and run their two televisions for that matter. 

Dan and I  have a pretty good handle on overnight camping without plugging in.  We find BLM land (Bureau of Land Management especially in western states), Forest Service spots, or Wal Marts just for eight hours sleep and back on the road.  Most of these places do not have electricity available.   Our Colorado kids reserve their spots in Colorado State Parks in January for their summer vacation--that's how crowded it is there.  However, an adventurous spirit can still find those places in the mountains that don't cost a thing--but don't have electricity and are not big enough for a 30 foot plus size unit.  Even some of the most scenic state and federal paid spots don't have electrical hookups.

The other interesting thing about the show was how many young families were there, of course it was Saturday. When I say "young" I mean not-yet-retired looking although there were plenty of kids around. Do these young families buy one of these rather cheap looking new trailers only to have it loose value in a driveway or storage facility and be used once a year?  Good Sam had a board of how many new rigs they had sold during the show--someone was buying.

So, we left the RV Show after only about 90 minutes. Nothing there for us.  I did get a card from a young man who could hardly talk to me because he was watching the KSU vs KU game on his mobile phone and admitted he was rooting purple. He did break away during a time out to hurriedly tell me he could save me a lot on my RV insurance.  I'm calling him because I liked him and saving money on our insurance might make the whole trip worthwhile.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hey! Hey! Anyone out there?

Sitting down to write here on my blog is like pulling up a chair to visit with an old friend.  That's odd, you might say, you've been completely absent for four months.   I was asked recently why I was not keeping my blog up anymore.  Here is how I answered:

I started writing Linda's Backroad Musings especially for our kids and any friends who might check in.   Those years I drove the mail route, there was always something going on out on those 90 mile gravel road days.   Now that we are retired, our life doesn't seem nearly as interesting.  Social media is popular among my friends and even former bloggers, so I thought I would  put something on Facebook once in a while rather than here.

I like social media and find myself checking there more than once daily.   Friends post often with nice pictures of what is going on in their life.  In these posts, I see some of the same topics and interests I put on my blog, including vacation pictures, grandkids and food.
Here's the deal, though--I don't feel comfortable with Facebook.  My posts show up on my friends' feeds whether they really want to see what I'm doing or not.  If I do put something on Facebook, I feel the responses may be forced because I have  nice friends and I don't like putting them in that position.   Finally--and this is a big one--our kids either don't like or never check Facebook. 

Over the Holidays, Doug said that I should either start up my blog or shut it down.  I've given that some thought.  And, as I said at the beginning, when I sat down to write, it felt good.  So, here's what I am going to do, I will put new stuff up on my blog twice a week.  Right now I'm planning on Tuesdays and Fridays. That way anyone who might actually still be checking my blog will know when I'll be posting.  There may be exceptions such as when we travel and then I may just put something up when I have a chance.

There you go--I'll be here.  If you want to know what's going on check in.  I'll be checking social media but I've decided this blog is still my passion and I will not abandon it again without letting you know.