Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Break In!

It was about 10:00 am on Monday, January 21st, that we decided to run an errand.  Someone was watching our driveway to see us leave and cameras here at the house were watching while we were gone.

It's hard for me to figure out exactly what time because the time stamp on our cameras is off.  But it was close to 11:00 when someone came to our door.  He knocked, knocked, held his phone up and waved it around like he was trying to get a signal, knocked on a window by the door.  Then he did this:

He actually waved at the security camera.

For 7 1/2 minutes he walked around the house and tried every door and knocked and looked in windows.

Then he put his shoulder into it and knocked in the back door--a door with a dead bolt no less.  The following is his timeline for loading his Jeep:   In about 4 minutes he came out the front door with the first load that included electronics.   Another 4 minutes, miter saw.   Another 2 minutes, jewelry.  He moved up to the barn, 1 1/2 minutes in our RV, flashlights,  2 minutes in the barn, misc tools, 3 minutes,  a small generator.  He was gone in 23 minutes. Taking out the time he spent knocking on doors, he spent about 15 minutes stealing stuff.

We got home around 12:00 noon missing our visitor by about 30 minutes.  We immediately saw something was wrong when the garage to house door was open.  The basement door was opened when we came in the house.  We immediately called the police and I quickly saw the iPad was gone.  I immediately changed passwords for Apple.

The Douglas Co Deputies got here quickly.  We accessed the video from the cameras and they made a copy for their records.  They carefully inventoried all we could tell that was stolen.  By then it was about 2:00 pm.  They left but in about 5 minutes they came rolling back with another police officer.  He must have been on his way and just got here.  He came in and used the "Find My Phone" app on my phone to find the location of the iPad that was stolen.  It located at a motel in Topeka so off they went.

When they got to the motel, the Jeep was there.  Come to find out, the motel room was under surveillance by Federal Marshalls. (No idea why but speculating gun trafficking)   So, when they guy stepped out to smoke wearing the exact same clothes as in the waving poise, he was a done deal.  I would have loved to see that--police all over the place.

This mug shot was in today's Topeka paper.  No one told us any names, but since this guy looks like the one waving at our cameras and his violation says, "holding Federal"....


Today we went through the process of getting our things back.  And, we were surprised at what he had taken that we hadn't missed (my Channel perfume for one thing).  The only thing that seems to be gone for good is the miter saw.

Our thoughts about all of this have been of two kinds.  First, its unsettling that someone could so easily break into our home.  The thought of someone walking around, throwing things on the floor makes us mad.  On the other side, we were so impressed that the Douglas County Sheriff's department spent so much time on a relatively insignificant (although not to us) crime.  They treated us and our home with respect and kept us informed all along the way.  The fact that they and others actually apprehended the guy is amazing.

We told one of the deputies that we felt like the whole thing was like a "Cops" episode  on television.  He smiled and said, "Unfortunately, they all don't end this way."



Friday, January 18, 2019

Catching Up Part 1

In case there are still friends out there who are checking this humble blog, I am going to spend some time catching up.

Tonight, I can hear the wind and see the snow by the light on the barn.  Dan has been watching the weather today.  He thought maybe it would miss us.  We even saw a map on the news earlier that looked at that time as if it might be east of us.  However, I see by my computer weather news feed that I70 west of Topeka is struggling. Our grandson slid off the road on his way home from his friend’s house this evening and it was so slick that a four-wheel drive pickup couldn’t pull him out.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is preparing, sending and receiving cards.  I still have the cards we received this year on my bulletin board.  I had an idea the first week of December to crochet little stars for each card this year.  Good idea too late.  So, no one on my Christmas card list received little crocheted stars.  I told Dan I was going to start making them right away for next year—I’ll have to let you know December 2019  on that one.

Anyway, I had another idea.  I would take a picture of us peeking in from outside a door and I would say, “Merry Christmas from our house to yours.”  This idea did get done for the most part.  Interestingly enough, the hard thing was to take a picture of us peeking in from outside.  Here are a few attempts



The one we finally used is bottom right.  I can’t believe how hard it was to get a decent picture by setting the timer and running back into the picture. 

It is pretty obvious we were having nice weather two weeks before Christmas.  Although it’s hard to see in the background, but the pond was down so much that the dock was nearly out of the water.  With the nice weather came a dry fall.  In contrast, the dock is now totally afloat.  The pond is actually only about a foot below the overflow tube.  This past week has had welcome moisture for sure.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Just in Time for the Holiday Gatherings

I saw this today and immediately saved it.  If it is correct, it answers so many questions about what to call family members as we grow older and new babies are born.

Part of my problem with all of this is that I grew up in a rural farm community where it seems nearly everyone is related by blood or marriage (although that is changing in recent years).   I played with my cousin friends  when our parents visited each other usually on Friday evening.

First cousins are the easiest to identify.  My Mom's brother had five daughters and I sure did like to go visit them.  They lived out in the Flint Hills and they were the best cousins ever--lots of fun there. We were actually double related to those five cousins not only through my Mom's brother but my Dad's mom and their Mom's dad were brother and sister.  So, we were 1st cousins on my Mom's side and 1st cousins once removed on my Dad's side.   Oh, guess what--their Mom's sister married a relative of Dan so they have a 1st cousin who I think would be Dan's second cousin.

Crazy--I know.  Here's the picture that got me going on this.  Don't you feel better about knowing what to call your family members at Christmas-----or not.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Goodreads Book Challenge

Congratulations to me!  I met my 2018 goal to read 20 books on Goodreads.  My running list of books is over here to the left.  I encourage you to join Goodreads and, if you request,  I'll be your friend and we can compare books.

Here is a print screen of the 20 books I read this year.  (If you click on it, it will be a little bigger.)



 For some avid readers, this is not too impressive.  But, I prefer audio books and that is slower. (However, I can clean house and listen to a book)   If there is a book on here you liked, let me know in the comments.  Looking over the list,  I can't say I have a favorite.  Probably my least favorite was Titans just because it would be better read so that it could have been skimmed a little.

There are best book lists for 2018 showing up already.  I have two or three books on hold from the New York Times list.  I haven't read any on that list.  The Goodreads list is here.  I have read two of the books on the list--both by Kristin Hannah, The Great Alone and The Nightingale--a favorite author.  I also read her book, Home Front.

I love this cartoon.  So true....




Monday, November 26, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

Did you miss my turkey under the lamp shade this year?  If so, here it is.  I don't care how many times I see this picture, I always laugh out loud.

How can a Thanksgiving be anything but great when all the family is home?    And, so it was!

I think overall I was a little more organized this year so when Drue's mother walked in the door with her traditional Mimosas, I was ready to sit down and enjoy.  Marc & Doug smoked the turkey and I had the ham warming in the roaster.  The rest fit in the oven.

Sometimes I use red handkerchiefs for napkins, which obviously were repurposed this day☺

They say eating turkey makes everyone sleepy.  I think it's more overeating.  The day was nice, though and everyone was out and about by mid afternoon.  We walked over to the big bales for pictures which are in the Smug Mug link.

There are also pictures that look like Christmas.  We decided since Doug and Drue won't be coming back from Colorado for Christmas, we would have a grab bag gift exchange.  I thought it was fun and hope everyone did too.

Dan's brother Paul and wife Janice came down  around 5:00 for a visit.  They had their middle child, Tara and her husband Danny with Layne, Emery and little Guy.  Then our long time friends Sue and her son Blake stopped by.  Good

Here is the link to my pictures.  I set it up a little different this time.  They can be viewed by scrolling down.  The last picture is a little movie and has to be clicked on to open in another window to play.

Saw this sight often out the window



Monday, November 19, 2018

Missouri Color Trail - Current River and Ha Ha Tonka

Moving on south from Johnson's Shut In on Hwys 72 and 21 for an hour, we arrive at Big Spring Campground in Van Buren Missouri for the night.

As much as we have always enjoyed our float trips, we have never floated the Current.  The Current River is designated a National Scenic Waterway (on sign below) and I am sure it is for a reason.  As it flows south, it becomes a tributary of the Black River (Johnson's Shut In).  Eventually the Black River flows into the White river in Arkansas. The White River flows into the Mississippi. We always float on the North Fork of the White in south central Missouri. 

Forgive my rambling on about rivers.  I do find it all fascinating and have been know to lean over maps with my magnifying glass trying to figure it all out.

Big Spring Campground was nearly vacant.  Two other campers were there spread out over the 123 sites available.  We found our place away from other campers and quickly found enough wood for a nice big fire before dark.  In the process of finding wood, Dan saw evidence of pig rooting so he set up the trail cam we carry.  I wish I could put a nice picture of a pig on here, but we only got a possum and it was blurry.  Got to love this fire, though.  The Current River is right over the bank from the fire.



  We are now turned toward home and the decision was made to just drive on in.  Usually, this is about the time I get upset because I am not ready to go home, but Ha Ha Tonka is another stop.  There is a cold front coming in the next day and I am nervous about winterizing the PW.

Ha Ha Tonka means "laughing waters" and it is said that is the name given the spring by the Osage  below the hill where the remains of the castle is located.

A wealthy Kansas City businessman named Robert Snyder had a dream of building a European style castle.  In 1905 he found the the perfect place overlooking what is now Lake of the Ozarks.   Mr Snyder never saw his dream completed because he died in Missouri's first automobile accident.  The house was finally completed by his son in 1920 but the family's money ran out.  It was then run as a hotel and lodge until 1942 when the entire building was ruined by fire. The family was one of many who opposed the building of the Lake of the Ozarks.  It is still a beautiful location with the lake in the background and a nice break from a roadtrip if in the area.  Looking out over the hills and lake, the trees were in their prime. This is when I really missed my good camera.


 As we approached Stull and nearly home around 8:00, we wondered why we don't do more of these kinds of trips.  Maybe I'll make a list of three day roadtrips for the future.....

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Missouri Color Trail - Johnson's Shut Ins

Backroads and small towns are on the way to Johnson's Shut Ins State Park, a 8,781 acre park on the East Fork of the Black River in southeast Missouri..

So, does everyone but me know what a "shut in" is?   There were three informative movies which explain it so I recommend  the visitors center first.

Here is a very general overview of what we learned.  Millions of years ago, there were volcanoes in this area of Missouri.  The process of heat and cool created different kinds of rock.  Some of the rock easily changed with running water whereas other rock remained solid.  As the water flowed, the softer rock wore away creating unique areas called shut ins.  The shut ins in this state park created what could be called a natural water park.  Water flowed, backed up into pools and then moved to other pools often creating small waterfalls.  This is not a totally unique situation in Missouri, but this is one of the largest gathering of these rocks.

We also learned of the breach in the dam of a reservoir at the top of Taun Sauk mountain (the highest mountain in Missouri) on December 14, 2005.  A wall of water followed the Black River through Johnson's Shut Ins park causing a great deal of devastation.  Thankfully, the shut ins were not harmed, but camp grounds, walk ways and the visitor's center were a total loss.   The park did not fully reopen until 2009.  There were no lives lost but the park ranger, his wife and three children were injured when their home was destroyed.







Thursday, November 08, 2018

Missouri Color Trail - Wine and Meramec River

It is Octoberfest and we are near Hermann so wine it is.  Stone Hill Winery is close by so we make sandwiches,  buy a bottle of wine and enjoy looking out over the city of Hermann while we enjoy the lunch and view.

Most of the wineries in the area have entertainment but we just head on east to New Haven and Robller's.  It is a beautiful location and Robert and Lois Mueller, the owners, always plan a fun afternoon.

Before we drive up the long driveway to the winery, we stop in town to look for a geocache.  This is the second time we've tried to find this elusive treasure.  We know it is there because someone found it two days previous.  As I think about it as I write this, I wonder if it is under that bridge instead of on top...

This Saturday afternoon Mark Moebeck, a singer/songwriter from the St. Louis area is already playing when we arrive at the winery.    We laugh, sing  and even dance along with Mr. Mark all afternoon.  He never did take a break.  He even threw in plenty of Irish limericks that only got funnier as the afternoon and his bottle of wine waned. 

Since the afternoon was so much fun, we didn't get away until after 5:30 pm.  As we headed south, the sun set through leaves every bit as colorful as any trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We arrive at Meramec State Park after dark.  The lady in the booth asked if we wanted to be a part of the Halloween party.  I said I didn't have any treats so she put us in the back corner of the park.   What a fun weekend for young families though.  Campers and tents were decorated and little ones were all over in their costumes. 

The morning sun brought a pleasant surprise.  The trees were beautiful.  We unloaded the bikes and spent several hours riding around, picking up big black walnuts for our neighbor back home, and taking a freezing cold shower. 





Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Missouri Color Trail - Rocheport

There was talk around the house of a fall roadtrip.   We check the calendar, watch the forecast and finally decide Friday, October 26 is the day to get on the road.  The next few posts will be of that trip.    We inadvertently chose a perfect time and it took me a bit to get over my disappointment in forgetting my good camera to capture the colors.  Still we are never without a camera so all pictures are from my iphone 6.

I should get a picture of our cat when the PW parks in front of the house for loading. In fact, if I would have thought of taking one, I probably would have remembered the camera.  She knows something is up and spends the entire loading time pacing around.  Eventually, our house on wheels is loaded and Laura the cat is sulking away to the barn around 3:00 pm.  Which, puts us in the middle of Friday traffic in KC.  

By the time we made the east side of KC and stopped for a Hardee's burger (a little greasy but delicious) we decide the Rocheport Katy Trail parking lot would make a perfect overnight stop.  Surprise!  The lot is full of cars.  There is a new trail side restaurant and it is doing a great Friday night business.  We find a place off to the side and darken down the windows for a stealth night hoping the new place serves breakfast.

After a quiet night's sleep, we peek out the window to see the Meriwether Cafe and Bike Shop open and busy.  Follow the link to read how Brandon and Whitney Vair moved to Rocheport to begin their family in a small community and follow their dream owning a small business.   If a busy parking lot means a good restaurant, the Meriwether Cafe is an excellent example.  The owners are friendly, the service is great and they even have an electric bike among their rentals.  Of course, we have ours with us.  We definitely need to ride the miles afterward to work off our shared meal of delicious scone, muffin, pancake, bacon and eggs.  

I have shared pictures from the Katy Trail many times, but cannot visit this area without a few again.  We get our first taste of the beautiful colors ahead.






Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Kids are Back

I know this is a Twisted Sister song.  Well, I knew it was the name of a song, but not who sang it until I looked it up. 

As most know, the kids I am talking about are our North Carolina grandkids and we once again are getting to attend music concerts.  We have missed seeing them perform. 

Adam plays a cello in the Symphonic Orchestra.  We were proud he was chosen for this select group after having been gone for three and a half years.  Their first selection was Fantasia in F  followed by English Folk Song Suite in three parts and finally Overture to Semiramide.   All sounded beautiful.  Adam is on the right. 

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Evan’s 6th grade singing concert entitled “Dreamers” was last week.  He is lucky to have a young, energetic music teacher named Travis Mott who accompanied most of the songs on a guitar.  And, get this list of songs:  Lost Boy by Ruth B, Best Day of my Life by American Authors, Blackbird by the Beatles, Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry, Rather Be by Clean Bandit, and A Million Dreams from “The Greatest Showman.”   It takes a teacher with lots of skills to get a group of 5th and 6th graders to learn all of these songs—lots of lyrics—and well done.  Evan is in the light blue shirt—wonder where he gets his smile, his eyes and his personality!

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Thursday, October 04, 2018

O’Haver Lake near Poncha Springs CO

O’Haver Lake is 9,200 elevation,  15 acres, stocked with trout and  simply stunning in the fall.   So our September reservations had to be made well ahead of time.  Thank you Drue for getting in on time to sign us up for one of the most beautiful sites on the lake.  To our front, is the lake and all the activity there and to our back is 13, 971 foot Mount Ouray.  It was a perfect weekend with mild weather during the day and campfire weather at night.  Had we kept all the trout we caught, we would have enjoyed a nice fish dinner. 

Below is a link to pictures taken during the weekend.  Click here or on the picture (remember the little sideways arrow above the larger picture for a slideshow).   The cattle in the picture managed to get out and seemed happy to look around the campsite.  You will see Gunner and Eve enjoying the water but really loving  kayaks.  It was a wonderful weekend.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Las Animas & Canon City along Hwy 50

Hwy 50 has been called the Lonest Road in America.  We consider the Hwy 56 Kansas Highway which turns into Hwy 50 in Colorado a classic or maybe vintage route with historical and scenic possibilities.  It was around Dodge City that the Santa Fe Trail route dips south along the “dry route” or west through Colorado which was considered the mountain route.   Today we are headed for the mountains.

Hwy 50 in Colorado goes through Las Animas which is in the historical trading area of Bent County, near the junction of the Arkansas and Purgatoire Rivers.   The courthouse for Bent County is the oldest functioning courthouse in Colorado.  The information regarding this structure describes it as having “a Victorian Institutional style with Romanesque arches”.  A striking building in rural eastern Colorado.

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The jail housed the sheriff as well as the county prisoners.  Sheriff Dan Gates was elected in 1927.  You might know his son as Ken Curtis who played Festus on Gunsmoke.

IMG_1272Next, Canon City is better known for the Royal Gorge.  Today we opted to travel the Skyline Drive, a one-way, 2.6 mile drive that is accessed west of the city.  It was built in 1905 by prisoners.  They received ten days off their sentence by working one month.  When first opened, it was unlawful for automobiles to be on the drive—only horse drawn carriages.  We drove this road with our little RV and it was white knuckle.  Perhaps they trusted horses more than automobiles in the early 1900s. Dan remembers his Mom being scared to death on the road in the 1950s when they visited the area.  Here is a YouTube video, not made by me, but gives a good idea of how the road is while moving. Dangerousroads.org includes it on their list.

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Hwy 50 follows the scenic Arkansas River.  It was especially pretty this day because all along there were fly fishermen casting their wide arch while standing in the river.  Just before reaching Salida, we were able to veer only a short distance off the road to find Hayden Creek Campground.  The sites were free after Labor Day and it was nearly deserted.  Hayden Creek provided us with a beautiful falling water sound for the night.  The fire and jacket felt good in the mountain air.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Horse Thief Reservoir

Best name ever for the newest body of water in Kansas.   Located nine miles west of Jetmore,  the reservoir opened in 2010 and when we visited there last week, was at capacity.  There was a sign as we came into the campground that announced the area as the sunset capital of Kansas.  And, we did experience a breathtaking sunset that night.

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There are bluffs on the east side of the lake but overall there is a western Kansas feel about the terrain.   There were other RVs parked in the campground but we did not see anyone out and about which was rather odd.  We drove around the entire campground trying to decide the best open site.  It was a windy evening and there were no sites that provided any shelter with trees.  Although there were many planted and that will change in the future.  Many of the sites were fully covered in concrete with small wooden shelters over the picnic tables.  We haven’t been to every reservoir in Kansas, but Horse Thief has to have some of the nicest campsites.  There were two huge yurts and there was also a sign that said these provided Kansas’ best glamping experience.

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After a little research, I found there is a Horse Thief Canyon nearby.  It has historical significance in that there was a huge Cottonwood tree there where three horse thieves were hung in the 19th century. The tree was once thought to be the biggest cottonwood tree in Kansas.  It was hit by lightening in the late 1930s and is no longer standing.   The canyon sits on private land now but has a long history of being a meeting place for locals.  I would think that the canyon had some significance in the naming of the lake.

Although I had our Kansas fishing licenses, the wind kept us from fishing.  Too bad because, as you can see, we were right on the water. 

We enjoyed our visit but were up with coffee, bacon and eggs and on the road to Colorado for our annual September visit.