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.

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Only in the Flint Hills.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Projects

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Riparian Perserve at Water Ranch and Eastern Canal Trail

There are no rails to trails here in the Mesa/Apache Junction area—really none in the entire Phoenix area.  However, there are very well groomed bike trails along the numerous canals that bring the precious water into the region.  Our favorite is the Eastern Canal Bike Trail that can be accessed from the Riparian Perserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert AZ, only about 15 minutes from where we are staying. 

We have visited the Water Ranch before and I wrote about it here.   There is also another blogger calling herself the Dragonfly Woman who also visited and wrote an interesting article about it here.  Here is a screen shot of how the Ranch looks on a map. 

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The lines between the water are bike and walking trails.  Not all the ponds are full at the same time.  All the water is reclaimed except the water in the fishing pond, which is filled with fresh, clean water pumped up from the natural resevoir below the other ponds.  It is an interesting concept.

To the right of the picture is the Eastern Canal trail.  We rode ten miles total with probably eight on the canal trail.  We took our time and enjoyed the beautiful day.

Here are three birds of interest spotted on various ponds. 

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Cormorant

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Avocet

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Wilson Snipe

This place fascinates us because it seems so out  of place in this urban desert setting.  There are always lots of  things to watch including birders with sophisticated listening devices and cameras along with young mothers with children in tow watching for the numerous bunnies.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sedona: Chapel of the Holy Cross and Verde Canyon Railroad

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Click here or on the picture  for a slideshow  of our visit to the Sedona area.

Sedona is about a three hour drive from our location in Apache Junction so we were up and on the road by 8:30.  There is only one road north and it was busy on Sunday, March 26, 2017. 

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is located just outside of Sedona.  The red rock formations are beautiful which is why local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude decided to build the Chapel in Sedona when, due to WWII, she was unable to build it in Budapest Hungary. 

Staude was inspired to build the Chapel by the 1932 newly constructed Empire State Building.  She was helped in her project at different times  by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright and Senator Barry Goldwater who helped her get permission to build on government held ground. 

It is written that Staude flew over the area and the spot where it is constructed just come to her as the place  the chapel should be built.  There are  stones in the background of the pictures in the slideshow that some think look like the three wise men or perhaps nuns kneeling.

I’ll just say at the beginning that, for me,  the Verde Canyon Railroad excursion is well worth the time (four hours) and money.  The cost approaches $90 a piece for 1st class, which included a light meal.  Drinks were offered and were not overpriced.  As you will see from the pictures, there is an outdoor car as well as comfortable indoor seating. 

The railroad began as a way to get the rich copper discovered in Jerome Arizona out to the rest of the world.   At first the ore was carried out by wagon load over the rugged terrain.  Over the years rail transportation came into the area which enabled the copper to be transported more readily and made the area even more profitable  After several owners and an up and down copper market,  Mr. John Bell eventually purchased the line.  When he rode the first time, he felt the beautiful scenery should be shared and eventually it became the popular tourist attraction of today. 

As a side note, as the train leaves the station at Clarksville, it passes through the old slag dump.  Slag is part of the wast material from the copper smelter built to service the Jerome mine.  It is now a hard mass that covers 40 acres and is 40 feet deep.  A company has purchased this slag mass for millions and we were told the gold and other precious minerals that will eventually be removed will be worth billions.

The entire train excursion is exciting for its scenery along the Verde River and also for the history which is shared by the help aboard the train.  When we arrived at Perkinsville, the engine is unhitched from the front and moved to the caboose end.  During this 20 minute change, we learned even more history of the area including the fact that scenes from the movie “How the West Was Won” was filmed  at Perkinsville. Our day was filled with  western history and gorgeous sights.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Petrified Forest National Park & Happy Hours

Gallup NM to our destination in Mesa Arizona looked to be a short five or so hour trip.  With only a little encouragement to check a couple geocaches in the Petrified Forest National Park, Dan exited I40.  Then, we decided to drive the road through the park and connect with an alternate route southwest.  It was a good decision.  Even though we had visited the park before, we hadn’t taken the time to drive the 24 mile loop. 

First a visit here

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There are temptations at every turn at this visitors center.  Jewelry, pottery, and everything else petrified or otherwise.  The one thing I am now very excited about are the new tokens available from National Parks, Monuments and Memorials.  There are little rectangle metal tokens costing only $1.  The Token Album costs $6 but still affordable and only a one-time purchase, little inexpensive collectables alleviating the temtation to buy National Park bling.

Just to say upfront, we found two geocaches and left two travel bugs.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably could care less about geocachingWinking smile

Our first stop on the loop were several pullouts for the Painted Desert.  I took pictures but it is only truly appreciated by just taking it in visually.  It is beautiful in its own rugged way for sure.  We stopped by the Painted Desert Inn.  It is an adobe National Landmark hotel now turned museum.

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The Newspaper Rock stop was historically informative by happening to be there the same time as two elders like us who knew a whole lot more about the 650 petroglyphs (some over 2,000 years old) then we could ever hope to have learned by just reading the signs.  Notice the obvious man and woman!

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The other side of the rock was equally covered.

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From there we moved on to the petrified wood “forest”

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We wanted to get to Kay & Lynn’s for Happy Hour, so we moved on.  Next time I will hike to the Agate House Trail—a two mile round trip to a seven-room pueblo of petrified wood.

The trip through the canyons and peaks south from Show Low to Globe and on to Apache Junction/Mesa is breathtaking.  Not the fastest route but definitely beautiful. 

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Yes, we did make it and we were happy for more than just an hour because Lynn had some Cerveza Modelo Especial—a Mexican beer that is very much to our liking. 

As just a side note to this Tuesday March 21st post that I am writing on Wednesday, March 22, we are staying in Lynn & Kay’s park model in Roadhaven Resort in Apache Junction.  They used to live here before moving to a home in Mesa.  They now rent it for the winter.  We are here because their renters decided to go home early.  Lucky us--we have lots of room, air conditioning (temps are in the 90s) and access to a swimming pool, etc.  This is not our usual off-the-grid experience at Lost Dutchman State park, but we are liking it—liking it a lot!

Monday, March 20, 2017

South by Southwest

We said goodbye to most of the family last night because they are up and out of the house before we even open our eyes.  Coffee, Drue’s french toast and out the door by 8:30 am is good for us.

Our destination is Apache Junction AZ.  We decided to cut cross country because, why not… Our first stop was Canon City CO to check out the Bristol Brewing Company.  Unfortunately it was closed but it is a testiment to repurposing old schools. The kids say there is also good beer being made in that school house.

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Next it is on to Salida to eat at Amicus restaurant.  We have heard so much about this brewery/restaurant so decided to stop by.  I called in our pizza order because we didn’t have a lot of time.  It was definitely delicious—especially the inhouse crust.  Was sorry we didn’t try the salad and calzones because they are supposed to be superior as well.

As we menandered south we could not escape going through Wolf Creek Pass.  Snow melt is beginning which made the Treasure Falls beautiful.  We didn’t hike up because the path was snow covered but it looked fun.

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Shiprock is a small town in New Mexico and it gets its name honestly. 

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Since we went right through Pagosa Springs, we stopped by one of Doug’s current projects—an addition on to the hospital. P1000261-1

We usually are roadtripping in the PW, but this time we are moteling it.  That means we have slipped a couple extra into our room here on old highway 66 in Gallup NM—here are two

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Colorado, Basketball and Sunshine

Another beautiful day.  There is some adjustment to dry air, but the weather is almost perfect in Colorado on days like today. I think the high was in the 70s.

 We watched a little basketball again today including Kansas University who we were all cheering for but especially Drue.  We are glad to see Baylor win.  I am sure it upset a lot of brackets, but we were glad to see Frank Martin on the sideline again and then pull off the upset.

Carly and I went to the best Goodwill ever near Monument.  We found some stuff!

These are pictures I took the past few days.  The first is of Carly's Guinea Pigs.  Notice the dogs in the background at the door.  These little animals are about all the dogs can take.


We took a quick run out to Fox Run to let the dogs run and find a couple geocaches.

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Carly and her clarinet jointed two flute players for a music competition today.  They received a 1 rating.  We were proud of them.because they are just 6th graders and there were very talented seniors in high school right before.

The competition was at Cheyenne Mountain High School.  Since we were in the area, we stopped by a local brewery named Cerberus.  Not sure how they came up with the name but it means three-headed dog that guarded the gates to the underworld!  The chef used to work at the Broadmoor Hotel so the food was awesome as was the beer.

We managed to watch a couple NCAA games--sadly Iowa State lost to Purdue after a fantastic comeback.  Doug and I got into a little game by taking a drink each time the name Swanigan was said.  He is the Big Ten player of the year and the announcers couldn't say his name enough.  We had to quit because I think a person could have gone through a six pack.

Drue and I found time to do a little geocaching over at Palmer Lake.  We found three thanks to Drue's sharp eye. Yes, it was on that light pole.


Monday, March 06, 2017

Rocks--again

Our kids always like to say we "made" them pick up rocks.  It is true, they did pick up rocks, as did our grandkids.  The reason is each year the neighbor who farms our small acreage goes through with his implement and rolls out more rocks.  Maybe the new machinery is built to farm over the rocks, but we feel it is good stewardship of the crop land to keep working to clear it.  

Thank goodness we don't have to cover the entire field, it is just the part that drops off to the south where the rock ridge begins to surface.  This is the second week we've been working on the project.  We don't exactly tear it up out there--four loads of our little trailer a day.  Today we dug up some big ones.

 A big storm came through this evening, but mostly north of us.  There were wildfires west of Topeka as well.  The Wildlife & Parks have done a lot of burning in the valley, but they are ultri careful. Dan has been wanting to do some burning, but its very dry in addition to the wind.  It's early so we will wait.