Friday, August 25, 2017

Eclipse Weekend continued

Robller Winery is near New Haven, about 13 miles east of Hermann and only about 30 miles from the outskirts of St Louis.  Our plan was to spend the night somewhere around the area after their Reggae Jam Party on Sunday afternoon and watch the eclipse from the winery’s hillside on Monday, joining in their “Eclipse Party.”

Somewhere between a bottle of wine and “Jamin’” and “Stir it Up,”,  we decided that location may be crowded with St Louis area watchers.  So, after the last tropical beat, we took off for Mexico Missouri, a small town about 15 miles north of the exit on I70 for Hermann where there is a large gun reloading store that Dan wanted to visit on Monday morning.  Mexico is a small town but they have an excellent little city campground with electricity and even a dump station for $10 a night.  I found this quiet, little gem by using AllStays,  an indispensable app for those who roadtrip like we do,  a plan with no reservations.

While Mexico was still on the fringe of the totality area, we decided to go for the middle 63 miles away at Booneville Missouri.  Surprisingly there still wasn’t much traffic on I70.  We arrived at  New Franklin right outside of Booneville in plenty of time to unload the bikes and ride about 15 miles on the KATY  by the Roundhouse campground, called that because it was a roundhouse location.  The extremely friendly owner let us park for a few hours without any charge.  (We drove by a place in Booneville wanting $20 to park with others somewhat less). 

  Here are a few pictures from the memorable event

IMG_0392-1  IMG_0395-1P1000698

As we rode up and back on the KATY there were a lot of bikers who road out onto the trail to watch—actually a cool idea.  They were all watching their phones for weather updates.  Luckily, just as the moon slipped over the sun, the clouds thinned out enough to get an excellent view, for at least one or maybe two minutes, all the while with cheers , whistling and somewhere far off, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler.

We left immediately after the event.  Getting through Boonville was stop and go, which should have been a clue to what was ahead.  As we approached the overpass entrance to I70 we could not believe the line of traffic as far off to the west as we could see.   It looked to be standing still—or at least hardly moving.  In our great, spur of the moment wisdom, we just kept going—south to Sedalia and Hwy 50.  We never encountered any stopped traffic and hit nearly every light on 135th street  to 7 Hwy north to 10 into Lawrence.  And, we escaped the terrible rain as well. 

The PW is clean from the four inches of rain we received Monday night and put away. Yes, it was a quick trip, but one that we will remember that is for sure.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipse and other sunny happenings

Last week, while contemplating the fact that we have not used the PW since early June, we decided we would do a familiar roadtrip east to the Hermann area and wine country.  It happens that that area is also in the “path.”

Had we prepared for the trip as planned on Friday, we would have been ready to leave before we actually did at 12:00 noon Saturday.  What happened to our Friday is something that will have to be written about later.  Let’s just say it involves a RV generator, repair shop and a progression of mechanic calls.

So, anyway, back to the road trip that got underway at noon, Saturday.  Hermann is at least a five hour drive in the RV.  That may run 5 1/2 hours if I drive, which I did for a while.  Dan took a nap, which is about the only way he can stand my slow driving.  The traffic was not much different than normal making us wonder why MDOT had signs all over the place asking drivers to, “plan ahead” and “expect heavy traffic.”   We found out on Monday that someone at the office had a magic eight ball.

Our first stop in Hermann is the little Loutre grocery store north of town to grab a bottle of wine for our picnic supper at the Herman waterfront park.  I had planned on burgers with trimmings, but the grocery store was just putting out freshly fried fish.  We went with that.

The Hermann Waterfront Park is a big expanse along the river with well maintained grass and benches.  And we had the park to ourselves so we just spread the tablecloth out and enjoyed the river and fishing boats buzzing up and down.  One boat was working its way around a breakwater across the river from us when a big school of Asian Carp jumped all around the boat.  We watched as the boat turned around numerous times going back and forth through the school.  There were a few choice words expressed about how we forgot the binoculars.

As we were finishing, a couple walked up to ask about our RV.  As can sometimes happen, we found at least an hour of interesting topics to cover with these two complete strangers.  Turns out they were from Chicago and the Mr.  (don’t think we even asked names) was something like a water engineer for the city.  He shared how the cities around the Great Lakes were dealing with Zebra Mussels and Asian Carp.  Fascinating.  But, to top things off, the Mrs. was a geocacher!  So, we were off to find a geocache that I knew was there at the waterfront because I’ve looked before to no avail.  The two of us were successful.  We marveled at we actually found someone else “our age” who does this hobby.

Look closely at this picture to see a group of kids that threw rocks in the river the entire time we were there.  Always a treat to watch the sun go down over the Missouri River.


There was some discussion as to where we would spend the night.  There is a campground in Hermann, but it was noisy and the only spots were cramped.   Since the KATY trail access point at McKittrick (right across the river from Hermann) is signed not to be accessed after dark, we stayed at the Loutre grocery store parking lot a few hundred feet away.  The next morning, we headed a mile west,  then back about nine miles east where we encountered a downed tree across the trail.  It was a cool morning and a beautiful ride.

Next on to Robller Winery at New Haven, further east down the river from Hermann.  We like this winery.  It has a family feel and friendliness that some of the Hermann wineries have lost.  And, we wanted to spend the afternoon sipping wine and enjoying their Reggae Splash weekend.  Glad we did because The Driftaways were a fun, entertaining group.  (the web site takes a bit to load, but sample of music is on the bottom of page).

Well, it’s late and I better continue this tomorrow. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) Meter

This is a meter for testing water.

We have a reverse osmosis water system under the kitchen sink.  How does it work?  Well, not entirely sure other than by household water pressure pushing the tap water through a semipermeable membrane.  There are several states of filtration and then the water is held in a gallon tank. 

The last time we placed an order for RO replacements, we ordered a TDS meter.

CaptureI think I paid something less than $20 for this meter.  It tests the concentration of solids in the water, particularly salt and high total dissolved solids and nitrates which will conduct electricity within the water sample.  

This thing may be addictive as I will probably be testing water all over the place.  However, the real reason I purchased it is because I was curious about the different types of water  we have available here at home, specifically the water that runs through our water softener.

The process is to place the meter into the samples up to the small ridge, swish it around just a little and then press the “hold” button which holds the reading until it is recorded.  The following are water samples gathered for the test and the results highest to least solids:

Kitchen faucet:  196  water runs through a water softener and a whole house charcoal filter.

Refrigerator:  187  water runs through the above plus a refrigerator filter

Waterline:  170 water sample was taken from an outdoor hydrant that bypasses the house.

Bottled water:  20  Great Value Purified bottled water

RO system in home:  8

We are pleased that our RO system is doing its job of removing the salt in the softened water. 

There is an interesting aspect of RO water that I don’t understand but will mention.  That is that this type of water is “aggressive” to the pipeline on a commercial level.  Minerals have to be put back into the water to keep it from eating through even the plastic pipes. As I understand, the reason is that RO water has a low pH with little alkalinity or hardness to act as a buffer.  (I pretty much copied this last sentence from a web site that was selling RO systems but I believe it is true)  This is why we have our system just inches from where we run it into our glass.

Also, the range of acceptable TDS seems to vary to who is publishing it.  However, there is somewhat of an agreement in a range of 200 to 500 as acceptable.  That would make our water district water very good. 

Bottom line.  We tend to drink our RO water with ice cubes made in the refrigerator ice maker.  However, now that I’ve checked all of the water, I put fewer ice cubes in the glass. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 4th Weekend

We feel so blessed that all the family could be together over the 4th weekend again this year.  It is quite an accomplishment to get here.  We can’t thank everyone enough for making the effort. 

We managed to have  some quality time in between fun activities.  We started with the pond again.  Aaron’s special friend Cameron who is also from North Carolina,  wasn’t so sure about the pond.  But, it wasn’t long before all were in, despite—well, it is a pond and Cameron was a good sport.   We didn’t get the dock done as we had hoped, but it helped that we had a tube.   And, the kayak.  I don’t usually put pictures of myself in these slide shows, but I have to admit this one is  just too funny not to be included.  I have no idea why I have socks on…  Don’t miss the expression on Drue’s face and Dan’s effort to get me launched. 

Speaking of Dan, he celebrated number 73 on June 30th.  Evan covered my lack of candles.  The Switzer hit the water and Kim and Drue got to ski before we had a prop failure.  In between it all, we made taffy!

Fishing was a lot of fun.  I think everyone caught plenty.  Note that Cameron caught the biggest fish—at least when I had my camera handy—and Carly did finally kiss a fish.  Well, not exactly, but at least held hands.

We couldn’t have chosen a better Royals game.  Lots of hits and scores.  Marc almost caught a foul ball.  And, Kim and Marc got tickets that were in the shade the entire game.  We even tailgated before the game!

So, as usual, click here or on the picture.  I like to hit the little arrow on the upper right side of the bigger picture for a full screen slideshow when you reach the SmugMug site.  However, enjoy however you like.  You won’t see a picture of all of us together.  You’ll see a lot of Evan—a master photobomber.   And, I missed little Eve, the wiener dog.  Oh well, there will be a next time.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017


I have a soap dispenser in the bathroom that needed refilled.  Here’s what happened when I added a different kind of soap.   I think it is pleasant contemplate.  All together now, 


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lamb’s Point

We were in the Abilene/Chapman area for Dan’s 55th high school graduation reunion the latter part of May.  We had time, so we drove from Abilene to Chapman on Old Hwy 40.  This marker was just east of Detroit.  The fact that there was a geocache located there is actually why we stopped.  Geocaches are often placed at historical locations. 



I took the following from the Kansas Historical Society web site—specifically the Kansas Historical Quarterly August, 1946, the year I was born.

A marker at the site of Lamb's Point, one-half mile east of Detroit, Dickinson county, was dedicated June 14, 1946, with Charles M. Harger of Abilene, former president of the Kansas State Historical Society, giving the dedicatory address. Lamb's Point, named for William Lamb, was the seat of the county government for a time in the late 1850's, and was a stopping place on early stage lines. The memorial was erected by the Dickinson County Historical Society and members of the Lamb family.

Since both Dan and my family were early immigrants in the area, it is interesting to read about life there in the late 1800s..   But, then I found myself getting caught up in reading the 1946 quarterly newsletter.  Here are a couple other interesting pieces of news.

There was a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Donner party visit and location of the grave of the first death of one of their members at Alcove Springs in Marshall County Kansas.   Alcove Springs was a stop along  the Oregon Trail.  The newsletter reports there was a petition to the National Park Board to make the Springs a National Monument or Shrine.  I believe that is still in the works—although it has a Kansas State Historical Marker.

Last, there was mention of booklets that were being distributed in Kansas.  One of them was entitled, “"What Historians Have Said About the Causes of the Civil War," by Howard K. Beale”  I hope this book was just poorly named.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Memorial Weekend 2017

The annual Memorial weekend campout in our neighbors  driveway began several years ago when we decided to go over to Clinton Lake for the weekend to break in their “new to them” camper.  We drove all over that park and the only possibility was camping among the motorcycle group.  We headed back to the driveway.

The weekend has taken on a life of its own.  Last year it was a huge group—this year not as many could make it.  We didn’t take our camper because the generator was  on the barn floor—a project that was bigger than we thought. (another one of those “projects” I talked about earlier)   So, we just drove home.

Tom invited his baseball coach from college & his wife this year.  They stole the show with their sixties Shasta trailer.  It was nearly original.  Well done.


There was a lot of good food (Christi’s milk can stew),  homemade root beer (cooking in the picture with dry ice),  always excellent breakfasts, and conversation with a little singing!



Tom and Christi have a nice place to entertain.  Their big lake provided fishing.  A nice pit for a bonfire.  And a granary.

A close by neighbor  left farming at age 65 to travel and that is how Tom & Christi got the granary.   They  were able to get it home without any  damage.  We were traveling at the time and missed the big move.  They fixed the metal in several places, but for the most part, it is in great shape.  Then they did their magic.


They have a old pump that runs water into a old wash tub on a stand.  The counter tops are concrete.  Definitely unique and works great for entertaining. 

Speaking of Memorial Day, my parents would have liked this:

IMG_4148 (1)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Echo Cliff and Flint Hills Cemetery

I may be jumping around here a little, but I was looking through pictures and just had to write a little about some May adventures.

Echo Cliff is near Dover Kansas—the best pie in Kansas—to be specific.  The plan was for a day trip to eat pie, then visit a cemetery near Alma and stop by the Echo Cliff which is between the two. 

IMG_4096 (1)

Sommerset Hall Cafe in Dover looks like it should be in a larger town.  The building is well-cared for and the inside is clean and cheery.  The food is predictable.  I would suggest eating in such a way as to save plenty of room for pie.  The Dover pies were chosen as best in the state.  I think there was even some national recognition. Well deserved.

Even though we didn’t stop by Echo Cliff on this day, here is a picture of when we stopped by there with our SHARE ladies. 


This “Indian Cave Sandstone” bluff is along Mission Creek in Wabaunsee County.  The information at the site says it was formed about 300 million years ago.  When we yelled, there was an echo.  Some of the group we were with remembered the area as a popular gathering place for teens in the 60s.  It probably still is.  There is a small county well maintained park there.  Definitely looks out of place for Kansas.

Our destination on this day was a cemetery informally named “The Lutheran Cemetery.”  We didn’t have a clear idea of where it was located. We had a map and time to spend driving around out in the Alma area.  We did finally stumble onto it.  And, on this day, it was beautiful.


We visited at just the right time to see a sea of Ox Eye Daisies. 

P1000488 Dan and I have enjoyed visiting small secluded cemeteries over the years and this is one of the most beautiful.  Thanks Sue for wanting to find it. 


This picture is a close up of the abandoned ranch that is in the very back left side of the flower picture.  The house was the typical limestone construction so often seen out in the rolling pastures.


Only in the Flint Hills.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Nothing like a deadline to get things done.  So, the story is, what were the deadlines and what did we get done.

Four days after returning from our North Carolina trip, we hosted a couples wedding shower for our nephew Taylor and his bride-to-be Kara.  I looked forward to this party—what is more upbeat and happy than a wedding shower.  On the way back from our trip I worked up a schedule for cleaning and cooking.  Believe it or not for those who know me, I stuck to the schedule and the wedding party day came with my windows, floor and bathroom clean.  It was a great afternoon.

A family reunion in Junction City, long time former neighbors spending the day here, another weekend visit by the Wickers our friends since early marriage, our nephew’s wedding, Flint Hills Cemetery hunting, Dan’s 55th year Chapman High School reunion in Abilene, Symphony in the Flint Hills with weekend campout.  These were fun times. And, I will revisit some because they are just too good not to write about.   But, there was another date looming that we had a long to-do list forming. 

All our kids were coming home for the 4th of July!  Top of the list:  get the boat running.

We have had this boat stored for a very long time—17 years to be exact.  It is a 1970 Switzer speed boat. My guess is you might not realize the boat is 47 years old, especially from a distance where you can’t see that it needs repainting.

Switzer boatSwitzer was one of the first speed/drag boats and we’ve always thought it is just a great looking boat.  This picture was taken after Dan and I removed the defunct 135 hp Mercury outboard and replaced it with this 115 hp Merc.  I don’t even want to think about what was involved with lifting these extremely heavy motors using the tractor loader. 

But, we did it and it ran—for two skiers.  Unfortunately, our goal of getting this boat ready for our family visit didn’t entirely work out.  The propeller failed and it took us several days after everyone went home to figure that out.

Then there was the matter of replacing the carpet with hardwood flooring in the room we call our office.

But, it is late and I am tired.  More on projects and deadlines over the weekend.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Catching Up

I’ll begin where I left off with the end of the trip to North Carolina the later part of April.  The pictures of the regatta on my last post were the beginning of a very wet visit.  We were disappointed we didn’t get to ride the New River Rail to Trail in Virginia but it literally was pouring rain and part of the trail was in a canyon.  We heard after we got home that the New River actually flooded during that time.  It is a scenic river.  We hope to go back.

Not letting a little rain dampen our visit, we had a great time with our North Carolina family.  By Wednesday of that week, we knew the regatta at Oak Ridge was going to be called off.  The water was not safe.  We were all disappointed because we were going to stay an extra day there.

I want to include a little conversation we had with a elder southern lady at Walmart in the Cary area that week.   She had her basket full of flowers and a few groceries.  She admitted to us that she probably had picked up too many flowers for her budget.  Justifying her purchase, she said, “If you have two pence, spend one on food and one on flowers.  One is to feed your body and the other to feed your soul.”  (By the way, in case I forget to mention it later, with the wet spring, the wildflowers in our pasture are especially striking this year)

We were able to attend an orchestra concert at the high school.  Proud of those kids.


Since everyone was looking forward to a little roadtrip and Oakridge was out, Friday of the week, we all packed up and left for Ashville North Carolina.  Our destination was Brevard but first we ate lunch and had a couple beers at the Wicked Weed Brewery in Ashville.  Good beer. (We read after we got home that Anheuser-Busch bought the business out.  They are attempting to move into the craft beer market).    We also visited the Biltmore Mansion.  I didn’t take many pictures because we have visited there before.  Did get this great family pic though.


The next morning, the kids hiked (don’t have the name of the hike, but there was a beautiful waterfall).  We rode our bikes on the Brevard city bike path which followed the Davidson River for a couple miles.  Then it was off for home.

It has to be the wettest roadtrip we have ever taken. We were able to travel about 30 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway but from then on we drove in a steady downpour.  As we came up through Illinois, we could see water was coming out of banks of rivers and lakes. 

It was this day that the North Fork of the White river  in south central Missouri where we have floated so many times had a devastating flood—they called it a 1,000 year flood.  It completely washed out the campground where we usually stay.  It took out bridges and houses all along that scenic river.

But, we made it home

Friday, June 30, 2017

4th of July 2017

Hey I’m still here!!  So much going on—so much to write about.  I’ll be back next Wednesday or Thursday with details.  Until then


Monday, April 24, 2017

Racing Regattas and Rain

When we climb aboard the PW, there usually are no hard plans.  This time, when we left home at 9:00 am on Thursday, April 20th, we were headed to the J Percy Priest campground just east of Nashville.  We like the National Park campgrounds because our Senior Passport allows us to only pay half the cost of a camping spot.  We are always trying to find the best stopping spots for our trips to North Carolina to see our family.  This stop is close to I40 and, at 9 to 10 hours, a good first half.  Our spot was quiet which allowed us a good night’s sleep.

As it turns out, it was good we had this stop because the second half of our trip to High Point North Carolina to see Aaron and Adam row in the NC State meet was mostly rainy and filled with slowdowns associated with accidents and construction.  When we left Friday morning, the GPS said we would arrive at the regatta lake at 5:30pm.  In reality it was 8:00. 

The campground near the regatta  was full due to our late arrival.  The gate to the regatta site was locked so no chance to park near there.  Plan C WalMart nearly always works.  We slept fine and arrived at the Regatta site in a timely manner.  Thankfully, the rain stayed at bay but not the wind.  Finally, due to the choppy lake, they cut the regatta rowing lengths short. 

Here is a picture of Aaron in his boat that shows what the boys were dealing with.


The boys did great in their race.  I will upload more pictures of the High Point Regatta along with the Dogwood Regatta this coming weekend at Oak Ridge Tennessee as a slide show later. 

After the regatta we drove an hour up to  Virginia to ride the New River Rail to Trail.  That was after eating at the Foothills Brewpub in Winston Salam NC.  Foothills is a rated as a top brewery in the area.  Food was delicious too.  The drive to Virginia was wet—a hint of things to come.  More about that next time.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Our favorite scenic drive into the Phoenix area follows  Hwy 60 to Show Low then on to Globe.  The scenery along this route is amazing.  At the bottom of the descent off the “rim” and just before arriving in all the suburbs of the Phoenix area is the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park.

The land was set aside for the park in the 1920s by Col. Boyce Thompson.  He was a wealthy mining magnate who used his great wealth to “…improve the use of plant resources.”  The 323 acre Arboretum is the oldest in the state of Arizona.


We spent around three hours at the park and could find even more to look at on a return visit.  Below are pictures that I hope tell a small part about our visit.  I was not good about identifying plants as I took pictures so I have tried to do that after the fact.   If anyone viewing the slideshow notes that I have made a mistake, please let me know in the comments.  . Click here or on the picture then on the “play button” on the upper right hand of the picture.  If you want to pause the pictures, click in the lower left hand corner