Monday, July 27, 2015

2015 RV Survey

In 2007 Dan and I were returning from visiting our Colorado family when we decided to count Recreational Vehicles on I70.  It was the end of May, Memorial Day weekend.  We started counting at the Kansas State line and ended at Salina—250 miles.

Today, July 27, 2015, we did the same survey while once again returning from visiting our Colorado family.  We started counting at Limon Colorado and ended at Topeka—449 miles. These were our rules:  opposing traffic, anything we could see at interchanges or rest stops that appeared to be stopped a short while (gas stations, etc) and those we passed, making sure we didn’t count them twice when we stopped ourselves.RV Survey 3

Obviously, there is one column missing.  I do not have the original count from 2007 and the number of RVs per type came out to 1/2 vehicle when I used the percentages.  I decided to just leave that column out—it is close enough.

The blog post I wrote from the 2007 is here.  I mentioned that the price of gas/diesel was not making a difference in choice of type of RVs.  However, I think in the eight years since the last survey, it is making a difference.  The new light weight hitch pull campers seem to be making a significant change in choice of RVs according to our little informal survey.  I didn’t make a breakout count, but definitely there were a significant number of the 14 to 16 foot hitch pull campers similar to the brand name R Pod.

Another big jump was in the Van Conversions—our RV of choice.    It does not surprise me that interest in these have grown because, obviously, the public still likes RVs that put the driver with the passengers (note the  Class A Bus numbers and the Class C square back numbers).  The advantage the Class B, Van conversion is the mileage, which could reach up to 10 miles per gallon better than other RVs of that type. If the buyer likes road trips, that becomes significant.  And, it is not necessary to tow a vehicle behind.

We counted 11 motorcycle trailers (those little tiny things) and could have missed a few because there were a bunch of motorcycles on the road—maybe because Sturgis starts next weekend…

Another observation were the number of vehicles that might be packed to tent camp.  We didn’t count because that is a hard one to call, but honestly if we would have counted the ones we thought looked most likely, it would have ranked right up near the top.  That might be the young married and young families.  Certainly I could understand that with the cost of RVs now days.

Finally, we are at the height of tourist season and the last survey was taken at the very beginning.  But, even with the informality of it all, the percentages do say something about current trends.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sweating with the Fam

Recently Doug, Drue, Trent and Carly from Monument CO flew out to Cary NC to visit Marc, Kim, Aaron, Adam and Evan.  We kept thinking we should also make the trip just to be with the family, but decided to let the kids visit, get to know the area and talk about usSmile

The word we got from all was how hot and humid it was in North Carolina.   

So, as this Sunday evening slips away, I am thinking about the family and wondering what is going on in their lives right now.  Here’s what my research tells me about their outdoor activities.





Very interesting—Cary wins for coolest temperature, Berryton is high with Monument right in the middle.  Monument and Cary tie for “Feels Like” of 79 degrees.  Berryton wins with 102!!  That’s why I’m here at the computer instead of outside.

Of course, there is one more HUGE difference.  And, I’m sure the Colorado family caught this right away.   Cary’s humidity is 67%, Berryton’s is a crazy 77% and, to no one’s surprise, Monument’s humidity is a very low 24%

And, that is why when the Colorado family visit us “down low” altituders  they usually point out quite frequently how hot and sweaty they feel.  While, the rest of us, even in the summer,  are cold at some point when we go to Colorado.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Grabbing some lunch

Dan and I took a tour after another 2 1/2 inch rain several mornings ago.  It wasn’t enough to bring the water up enough to go over the spillway on the new pond, but it did cover up the outlet tube. 

We decided to go around the back side of the pond to take a look at the flow.  It was substantial even though this picture doesn’t show the real amount.  Also, this picture doesn’t show the snake, which only seconds before had its head a little way up the tube waiting to grab any minnows  or tiny perch that get sucked down from above.  IMG_7443

Dan then spotted the snake down in the grass about nine feet from the outlet tube picture above.  I set the camera on center focus and pulled the telephoto up as far as it would go.  I took three pictures—for some reason, all with the same setting.  At first I was disappointed, but the more I look at the picture, the snake head in the bubbling water is sort of interesting…. 



Monday, July 06, 2015

Turtle nest—maybe

Several days ago, Dan came in from getting the mail and told me there might be a “blog” moment on the drive way.  Usually when he tells me this, it is worth grabbing the camera and checking it out.

Here is what he found laying eggs.


We call this a pond turtle.  I thought maybe she was a painted turtle because they sometimes spend time on land.  I discounted that because there are no bright markings.  She didn’t seem too aggregated with us—she barely stuck her head out.  Maybe she was concentrating on laying those eggs.


While we were watching her, a neighbor stopped by.  When we came back to check on her, she was gone.  Here is her hole.  We don’t think she laid any eggs.  At least we couldn’t see any down there.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Happy 71st Birthday, Dan!

It wasn’t a big celebration—but lots of laughs and plenty of food.

I wanted to fix something that Dan would like.  He mentioned fried chicken.  I think someone else can fix that better.  So, we settled on Frogmore Stew.

An important part of Frogmore Stew is corn on the cob.  We were lucky to find good quality at Dillon’s.  The shrimp were frozen, but where we live, that is what to expect. 

Here we are after the dinner and getting read to blow candles on the cake.


We’ve celebrated 49 birthdays and today was the first time I gave Dan flowers—although half of them were from the pasture.

If you look closely, at the bottom of the picture is a hole in the table.  We have a leaf for the table with a hole especially for serving Frogmore Stew.  Traditionally shrimp shells and corn cobs are dropped through the hole into a trash can. 

Christi had another idea….


The cake was funny—study it a while.   Thank you Heath & Connie.


He was pleased to get calls from the kids and he actually answered a text from Carly.  Maybe he will get techie in his elder years! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cicada and Tree Frog gathering

I am documenting the Cicadas to acknowledge this is their big 17th year.  The volume of their sing song mating call is deafening if near a particularly loaded tree.  The other day when I was mowing, they didn’t like the competing sound so they swarmed all over me.  They don’t bite, but those little gripping feet feel like it.

Speaking of gripping feet—the tree frogs on our kitchen window are amazing.  I count eight in this picture, but there were actually ten right before I took the picture. 


For a while each evening, we leave the light on in the kitchen which draws bugs on the outside of the window.  The tree frogs then go to work.  If you look closely, there is a  hummingbird feeder hanging from the eave.  The frogs regularly jump back and forth from the feeder to the window.  Today we saw a little tiny one make the leap.  Last week I washed the window on the outside and within a day it was a mess again.  The little buggers are too much fun to watch so I will not worry about a dirty window.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Four out of Five Isn’t Bad

A recent article listed five outstanding wine regions outside of Napa Valley.  Dan and I have visited four of the five.  Obviously, we think wine trails are fun.

Hermann Wine Trail – I have lost track how many times we have visited this region.  This might be my favorite picture of a spring visit several years ago.


Shawnee Wine Trail – We’ve visited this southern Illinois region several times.  We  enjoy their fruit wine. And, it is especially beautiful in the fall. They may have improved the signage in recent years, but early on this is why it was difficult to find the actual wineries.


Finger Lakes region of New York – This was a beautiful area, but we visited at a time when we were up against a deadline of a birthday celebration in southern Indiana and getting back to work.  So, we did not do it justice.  We stopped at one winery.  This is the only picture I took.  There is a glimpse of one of the finger lakes in the background.


Texas Hill Country – Loved this area in the spring when the Blue Bonnets were blooming.  Would go back in a minute.  We were there looking at the flowers and only visited one winery.  There is a wine trail that looks interesting.  I think we need to get a group and sign up next spring!  Want to come?



Another notable wine trail would be Colorado’s Grand Junction area.  I don’t know if there are enough for a “trail,” but we enjoyed our visit to a winery in Nebraska.  And, what about our trail right here in Kansas?  We think the wine is good and it’s close enough to visit in an evening.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Wildflower Walkabout

I wish we would have kept better track of rainfall this spring.  The total amount has to approach ten inches—maybe more.  Both the brome and prairie hay look lush.  Right now so do the wildflowers.  So, we decided to do a little wildflower tour.

First, just a hundred feet from our house is a big patch of common Sullivant milkweed.  Anytime we drive by, it is humming with activity.  It’s a wonder there aren’t butterflies and bumble bees in this picture as well.  They are all around.


Further up the driveway we have one of my favorites—Black Eye Susan


These are all over the pasture—Fleabane Daisy


The most beautiful of all—Butterfly Milkweed



There is always one mystery.  I think we’ve taken a stab at what it is in the past.  I thought maybe Dewberries, but doesn’t match the online photo.  Help!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Symphony in the Flint Hills 2015



Today I laid out our  t-shirts and confirmed that we have volunteered seven years at the Symphony.  Each year it continues to inspire us in its beauty and in many ways simplicity.

The Symphony celebrated ten years this year.  Originally, it was the inspiration of just a few.  Two especially, who saw a vision of what the annual concert could be—a gathering of people who enjoy good music to introduce them to the beauty of the Flint Hills.

This year, in celebration of the ten years, it was held at the Z Bar Ranch or Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve, site of the first gathering.  Our volunteer time started at 10:00 am so we were on the road by 8:00.  At that time, the weather was a bit up in the air, but the day turned beautiful. 

We opted for a different seating choice this year—near the edge where we could listen to the music while enjoying the beautiful hills. 



We completed our volunteer duties to hear several educational presentations.  We were especially interested in the reintroduction of  Prairie Chickens onto the Prairie.  The history of the bison herd was surprisingly interesting as well.

Lyle Lovett was a guest of the Symphony.  We were buzzing around the seating area when he and his band showed up on stage for a sound check.  They ended up playing for at least 30 minutes.  What a surprise treat.


Once the concert started, all eyes were on stage.  Ours, however, were on this beautiful spot.



And, finally this


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Crawdad, Crayfish or Crawfish

In New Orleans it was mostly Crawfish—maybe Crayfish in fancy restaurants.

In Kansas, this is a good ole CrawdadIMG_2481We should have put something beside it for comparison.   I am sure I’ve never seen one this big here before.  This big daddy came from Shawnee County but went down to the new pond to live another day.

Monday, June 08, 2015

A Different Kind of Colorado

Couchsurfing.  That is sleeping on different couches while traveling .  Definitely for the adventurous.

Doug, Drue, Trent and Carly did more than give up their couch—they “rented” their entire home to a family for a week.  The occasion was the Air Force Academy graduation just down the way.  This was their first time and, according to them, their last.  It is a lot of work getting ready, not to mention the week in their camper.

Enter Nana and Papa.  Since this really wasn’t a vacation, we drove the PW out to stay with the grandkids during the day while Doug & Drue worked. 

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park and Campground at Larkspur, just north of Monument is  a “destination” campground.  We arrived on Tuesday morning, checked out Saturday morning and only left twice and that was to eat at Larkspur Pizzaria and Café.  (Highly recommend that café—especially the imported from Minnesota Walleye on Friday nights)

First thing each morning, we traveled to the Ranger Station in our golf cart (resisted but caved to pleas to rent when we also grew very tired climbing the hill to our camp space on top) to pick up a daily list of activities.

It took us three days to find all the “special Jellystone geocaches” with three real GPS units.  One was near here, Trent & Carly climbed, we didn’t.


The camp was located in the foothills, but still scenic.


Behind Carly is the Frisbee Golf Course.  Here they are mowing that area.   Actually in this picture they were grazing the railroad right of way!!  Most of the time they were up on the course.  They had a herder with a crook herding stick.  Although most of the time he was traveling around in his golf cart.


We shot off air rockets that went surprisingly high.


Selfies, pictures with Yogi and around the campfire (think Trent should have been in the bathroom in that one).





No picture of the heated swimming pool, but the jumping bubble was very cool—which will be added in the morning because it’s taking too long to upload.  OK—here it is!

Oh, the kids would not like me to miss these special friends…



Lots of fun here at Jellystone.  It’s not cheap, but worth having all the activities to keep the kids and us busy.  Thanks for the good time Kevin, Emily and Ryan!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In Memory

We made our annual trip to the cemeteries today to visit our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles grave sites.  While it can be a time of sad reflection, we enjoy the yearly visit.   Our families are mostly buried at country church cemeteries only a mile apart in the community where we grew up. 

I have resorted to artificial flowers, the brighter the better.  We should try to get peonies started.  I don’t know of any other perennial flowers  that bloom at exactly the right time.  The rain was hard on the peonies this year.  They were blooming but often bent over often laying on the ground.

This year we visited the Alida Cemetery.  The town of Alida is under Milford Lake, but the cemetery was wisely placed on a hill outside of town.  It is in this cemetery that Dan’s great grandfather John is buried.  Dan and I have a common background in that both our families immigrated from Switzerland.IMG_2408 Here is another of Dan’s relatives with an impressive military background. 


The military service markers were not placed in the two bigger cemeteries, but these were in the much smaller Alida cemetery.  They were a bit askew so it would seem they aren’t removed from year to year.   I would like to get pictures of all the different wars.IMG_2413IMG_2407IMG_2417

I need to study more about these markers because it doesn’t appear each war has its own design at least with these markers.  Although, we did spot two marking  veterans of the Spanish American war and WWII several years ago. 

On our way home, we decided to drive through Fort Riley to the Ogden pawn shop we like to check on once in a while.  That did not happen.  The Post is secure—the two guards made that clear at the check point by what they said and by what one of them had in his hand.  Although, I will say they were polite.

Next year we will visit the Junction City cemetery and find my Mom’s parents. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Garden is In

I suppose most would say, “The garden is planted.”  Dan and I must have grew up saying this phrase.  I am sure this is how we would ask about anything planted, “Is the wheat in?” “Do you have your corn in?”  Then, we would ask, “Do you have your wheat  out?” Meaning, have you harvested.

Back to the garden. 


This definitely is not a great looking garden.  However, ignoring the weeds, the beans, onions and potatoes are progressing nicely.  Since this picture was taken, we have developed a deer problem again.  They love the green beans and have nipped the tops off each plant.  Dan has posts and wire ready to install an electric fence as soon as it dries up.  If we don’t get it installed soon, we will once again hardly have a crop of green beans.

As for the weeds.  I thought it was such a wonderful idea to plow the garden this year.  As I expected, it did make for a mellow seed bed.  What I didn’t expect is breaking all those bindweed roots cause the weed to multiply.  Dan has tilled several times, but the rainy weather has kept us out of the garden recently and it looks worse than this now.  As soon as it dries up enough, we will till again and probably resort to the old fashioned way of bending over and pulling—I’ll be doing that with the electric fencer off.