Sunday Travelers

Our two days are up at Thomson, and we’re on the move again.  We have 4 days of about 200 miles a day ahead of us before our next multi-night stop in Colorado.

Even at the cost of added time on the road I think we’ll end up taking the US highways across Iowa instead of the Interstate.

I’ll let you know about our overnight stop after we get there. 🙂

That’s if for now.  I’ll talk with you tomorrow, and thanks for stopping by.

Old Diary

Now Didn’t We Get A Surprise!

You just can’t believe anything anymore.

The website has been showing limited availability at the campgrounds and we last Tuesday decided to reserve for tonight and tomorrow even though they showed 39 sites available — and some 30 sites still closed since the park was shut down due to high water.

We we arrived today after a really pleasant drive we discovered that…

  • All those unavailable sites were not only available but were occupied.
  • And the 39 sites available were now pretty much all booked…

Had we not reserved for this Friday and Saturday we would have been tough out of luck.  So much for reduced park traffic after Labor Day.  The consequent result is that we have tied down Sunday night’s stop too.  From there I think/hope our fly by the seat of the pants approach should fare better as we proceed to less populous locations.  Sunday will be quite near Des Moines and that’s a pretty good sized population center.

Kathryn asked me to send pictures of what was damaged by the flood waters — there must needs be some reason that those 30 sites were showing as unavailable.  Well, we aren’t sending pictures and there isn’t damage — in fact they did shut down the campground but there flooding of the campground never occurred.  All the electric boxes had to be re-powered and the campground reset for visitors but there is no damage. 🙂   We had a very interesting talk with one of the rangers here, and while they were spared the flood this time, the year she started at Thomson Causeway there was water chest deep (on her, not me).  She was glad it didn’t happen again!


This image may not mean anything to anyone except Kathryn and those who were wondering how well our awning hangers worked out.

This is our LED rope light installed on the awning sleeve.  You can’t see much because it’s dark outside… DUH… But the point being that it holds the ropelight just as it was designed to do.  And the light provides a reasonable amount of light as long as you aren’t a camera.

And of course, with such a close view of the water we just had to get one snap of the sunset — having not seen many sunsets the last few weeks in the forest.


Not spectacular, but nothing to sniff at either!

I needed an outdoor extension cord, so we drove to Savanna where there’s a hardware store.  I found my cord — as witnessed by the picture of the rope light above, and while we were there we dropped into Manny’s Pizza.


I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t too sure about a pizza place that features a Mexican reclining against a cactus in their logo, and they do feature some Mexican fare on the menu — but the pizza is clearly the hometown fave here.

We went for our usual Pepperoni, Black Olive, and Mushroom concoction and this one was absolutely top shelf. Not on a par with Great River Roadhouse, or Giovanni’s in Roseland, IL, or Tanino’s on 76th Street, or Balestreri’s on 68th street — not THAT good — but definitely top shelf.

We’ve been on a roll lately with our pizza choices and not knowing what we may find as we move westward we’ll get in a couple more ‘fixes’ if possible.

Not too shabby, eh?  We didn’t finish it, but we’ll have enough for a  little snack tomorrow or Sunday.

All in all it was a wonderful day.  We met some new friends, found out the park wasn’t damaged, ate some decent food, laughed and joked a lot… what could be better.

I’ll talk with you tomorrow, and thanks for stopping bye.

Old Diary

A Look Back


My first tractor — a single axle White, 290 hp cummins


A couple days ago I got onto a nostalgic kick about trucks, and I mentioned my history driving semi.  Just for the fun of it I pulled out some of my old photos from that period on my life.  (I don’t seem to have any of my time driving Motor Coach — I guess having people (passengers) around all the time kept me from taking pictures.


We moved to Illinois from Swanton Ohio when Kathryn was about 1 1/2 years old and some 2 years after that I started driving semi.  For a couple years I hauled “new products” for North American — that was anything from a load of washing machines going to a Sears warehouse to in insides of a McDonald’s restaurant going to a jobsite.


This one had so many horsepower you could look in the rear view mirror and SEE the rubber coming off the tires!


I hauled boxes around for a while,  filled with freight and later on boxes filled with food — meat from Oscar Meyer and Patrick Cudahy and a variety of other stuff.  It didn’t take me long to realize two things:

  1. people who ordered truck fulls of food often weren’t happy to be receiving it — meaning that the people who ordered it weren’t the ones having to unload it.
  2. the further East you travel in a truck the less likely you are to be treated like a human. Driving on the East Coast seemed to be a continual cacophony of swearing and cursing punctuated by labor stoppages.

My solution to all of this was to stop running EAST!  I changed companies once again and bought a flatbed trailer and pointed the nose of my truck WEST for a change. I hauled lot of steel, a lot of construction supplies and … well… a lot of crazy stuff.


Kathryn Checkin’ out Dad’s truck

My family was apt to stop by and see what I was up to, so people popping into my cab was not unheard of!  This trip I happened to be in Toledo at the same time the family were visiting Grampa Frank at his house.


A load of waste water treatment oxygenation piping

I loved the challenge of trying to tie down the ugliest loads with a limited number of straps and chains.  Never lost anything! But the loads didn’t always look like the prettiest thing to go down the highway.

I never did much oversize hauling — a few loads here and there, and some of them weren’t hardly enough to be considered oversize.  This load of steel was over WIDTH, but not by much. But that didn’t matter.  If it was 1/4″ over sized it had to be placarded and treated the same as if it was 20′ oversize.


A wide load of steel

All in all it was a good life on the road — oh, there were problems to be sure; and it wasn’t easy being away from home for 2 weeks to 6 weeks at a time but you get used to some things.

I didn’t drive commercially for all that long of a period of time. A few years hauling a dry box, a few hauling a reefer, a few hauling a flatbed.  I guess it was only about 7 years trucking and 3 years a motor coach.  The two worlds are very much different and apart from each other. Both have distinctive subcultures of people associated with them.

Wisconsin Coach Lineslamers

I want to be able to say that my favorite time was driving people, instead of freight — after all, the people get on and off the coach by themselves, and don’t need to be tied down either.  However that would not be true.  The interesting thing about driving a coach is that you realize just one of many ways in which service people are considered less than human.  I saw sides of people I had previously respected that made me think differently about them.  When you aren’t thought of as human — or even BEING THERE — people forget their good behavior and let their real selves out to play — it makes you realize the hypocrisy involved with the masks we all wear in public.  I freely admit that part of the reason I have done what I’ve done and lived the way I lived has been because I grew tired of hypocrites.  Not everyone may approve of all my actions but one thing for sure — you get what you see.  I’m open about the things I like, appreciate, find beautiful, and I’m open about the things I dislike, don’t appreciate, and find ugly.

Well, enough walking down memory lane for now.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow – Today I’m travelin’ 100+ miles North to De Soto, WI and  the Corps of Engineers campground there:  Blackhawk Park.



Old Diary

A Place to Lay Our Head

Our New Home

Our New Home

To say that today was filled with ups and downs would be unfair to an elevator!  We had them:  emotionally, physcially, and geographically. In and out and up and down to pack up and travel.  In and out and up and down along the route — hilly and twisty.  In and out and up and down about where our new home might be.


Water lapping at our tail…

This morning when I woke I looked out the door and the Mississippi was lapping at our rear.  It’s hard to realize how much water this river “holds”.  We were at the widest point of the Mississippi — it’s nearly three miles wide at Thomson, and a dozen miles or so long in this pool for lock #13.  How much water is contained in a lake three miles by twelve miles — if it’s only 1 foot deep?  Or how much water has rushed into that same lake if it suddenly rises two, three, four, or more feet?  It boggles my mind to imagine.

By the time we pulled out this morning the camp hosts were gone and only about 5 units remained — all of whom were being forced out by flood waters.  The Corps will have finished shutting it down by this time and I see on The Weather Channel that flooding is being reported in Fulton IL.

Last night — late — I listened to another message from the people up here at Blackhawk Park.  After assigning us a temporary site yesterday the weather forecast was revised again and we were told (too late to call them back) that they might be closing later this week.  So, last night we wondered what to do.  It’s the busiest week of the year for campgrounds coming up — 4th of July. My resources for places to camp were all telling me this was not going to be easy and we could possibly end up with a couple hundred mile drive to a campground we might LIKE or at least 50-70 miles to a KOA campground which we would be less than keen on .

We got moving around 5:30 and by 7:30 we had packed up, slid in, disconnected, dumped and refilled our fresh water supply — we were ready to go.  And goodness gracious, if the rain that had been plaguing us all night didn’t come to just about a halt.  Saying a prayer for safe traveling mercies we high-tailed it North.

We stopped in Galena for coffee AND….  Literally as we were re-entereing the coach the phone rang again with a call from … you guessed it… the rangers at Blackhawk. The forecast had changed again overnight — they had MISSED a couple rain events and they were hopeful — even optimisitic that we’d be Ok here for at least most of our stay if not all.

Reassured we continued our journey northward with a stop for groceries (Prairie du Chien) and  a stop to look at binoculars (Cabela’s – Prairie du Chien).  The river highway — HWY 35 — had mud slides over the weekend and the highway was closed so we retraced our steps and found a detour.  Finally, about 1 p.m. we arrived in De Soto and pulled into site #67. The first shot shows us in our site.

This area is quite open, with little shade, but when faced with a lot of booked-to-the-gills campgrounds we were happy to have our choice of sites in this area and not to have to scurry for last minute accommodations.

We slowed down enough to snap a few shots of the flooded section.  Just outside the park is a small bait and campers’ supply store.  The owner told us they have been flooded out 5 (FIVE) times since May 1, 2013!!!  Considering last year there wasn’t enough water in the river to keep barge traffic moving — and now flooding — it’s quite a change.

We decided to celebrate with Pastrami sammies — pastrami, mustard, mayo, lettuce, on a sourdough baguette!  Add in a little cole slaw and a beer and it was a meal fit for a king – or if not a king, then at least for Edward X. Delaney!

We’ll be here for 14 nights, Good Lord willin’ and if the creek don’t rise.  Kathryn is scheduled to visit next week for what may be her last visit with us until after Labor Day, so it’s good not to have had to divert a couple hundred miles in the wrong direction.

Our life here will be different than planned — we would normally do a lot of walking here — the place is spread out and there are places TO walk.  But with the flooding we may focus on getting some of that still-put-off organizing work done — especially as regards the basement.  But for now, the awnings are out, the curtains are drawn to keep ourselves cool and we’re basking in the delights of woodpecker rattles, and warblers, and watching turtles sunning on floating logs.  Life is Good!

Old Diary

When they close the park they even pull all the breaker boxes!

It’s not quite that bad, but nearly so!

Blackhawk Park — our next stop usually has about 2.5″ of rain during the month of June.  This year they’ve had 10.5″ and the month’s not over.  We had a call last night from Eric Hammer to say that our next site is currently underwater.  Eric helped us out last year during our visit to Blackhawk so it wasn’t a problem remembering just who he was.  He wanted to know what we wanted to do.  They have a walk-up site that’s dry and we are all optimistic that the flooding may not worsen during the next two week — but there aren’t any guarantees when it comes to Momma Nature!

Then, this morning, it looked like rats leaving a ship here…. lots of units were pulling out whether or not they were scheduled to leave today.  And about 10 a.m. the rangers came around to tell us that the park would be closed tomorrow.  No big deal — we’re leaving tomorrow anyway, we thought, blithely ignorant of events going on around us.

our new spot #68

our new spot #68

About 10:30 we were eating breakfast and my battery backup started making noise.  We lost electric from the shore power pillar.  A walk over to the huddle of rangers and we found out that the section we were camped out in needed to be shut down today.  So, we picked up our bed and walked…. or we pulled up our levelers, drew in our slides, cranked down our antenna, disconnected our power cable and moved — to a different part of the park.  We’re back out on the Point, not far from where we camped with Kathryn last summer. The map to the left will give you an idea where we are now.

We have to get our groove on early in the morning.  Rangers will be coming ’round about 7:00 A.M. to disconnect power over hear too, and pick up picnic tables to be taken to higher ground and all those things that need doing before the park is officially closed. We’ll hold breakfast until after we are on the road, and get our wastewater dumping and reload with fresh water before heading North.

We need provisions so we’ll stop along the way — most likely in Prairie du Chien.

Blackhawk ChangesThe change at Blackhawk moves us from the shelter of those old Oaks I showed you last year to a much more open area without much shade — we’ll see how it goes but even at the worst it’s only a 2 week stay.  Who would have thought that the year after such a drought in the Midwest that too much water would have become such a serious issue.

We’re a little concerned about how Del is doing on the Nina or Pinta.  They have some 200 miles to travel from their last stay at Marquette, IA to their next visit at Hudson, WI.  That includes a number of locks and I’m sure with this weather they are also dodging river trash and logs.  Stay safe, Del.

When we started thinking about RV’ing we looked at it as an adventure.  We didn’t expect to out with such a bang, but hey, life is good and adventure keeps it interesting!

We’re on the move tomorrow so I’ll talk to you when I can.

All Hands, Abandon Ship!

Family, Old Diary

And the Good News Is…

noahs arkThe way things are going we may start looking for Noah and his Big Boat.  We have more rain — some of it forecast to be severe — in the forecast for today and tomorrow.  Fulton — just down the river — is expecting flooding later today.  So, with soggy skies we aren’t going very far or doing very much.  We’ve been reading, writing, and attending to small indoor chores.

But the Good News is that I have returned to my last summer’s weight loss mark — I’m back down to 30 lbs beneath my high weight mark sometimes just short of retirement.  During the winter I’d slipped a little and in the last three weeks I’ve managed to get back to my pre-Cudahy weight!  Feelin’ good; lookin’ better; gettin’ as much exercise as feels good and the weather permits (Ain’t no way I’m goin’ out to walk a couple miles in a rain slicker!)

x7322I finally finished that Peter Mayle book that has been dogging me.   Usually his stuff flies by as if inhaled but this one was different.  I’ve never been keen on collections of essays, and that’s what this one was.  But the premise — tastes acquired because of wealth — caught my attention and in the end it turned out to be an interesting and amusing read.  No way high on my recommendations list, but It’s Ok.

I have only 20 pages remaining in my re-read of The Seventh Commandment by Lawrence Sanders.  That was the one I started last fall and never finished after we returned to Cudahy.  I pretty much started from the beginning being unable to remember much of anything from last October. It’s not his best work, not his best leading character, but I like Sanders’ style, his books are long enough to make them worth while reading — I hate short stories.  With the rain in the forecast I hope to finish that today.


On the Small Space Living front, I’m pondering how better to deal with my power supply issue.  The one drawback to having committed to a short RV is finding ways to cope with how do you live with the storage issues you’ve created.  I am happy with how much we’ve downsized; I’m happy with being able to stow what we have on board — but some things have yet to tell us where they want to live within Journey.  I have been playing around with locations for my backup disks and my server — they are easy — they’re only 8″ x 8″ x 2″ — but this uninterruptible power supply is a bit bigger — 9″ x 15″ x 10″  and it wants to live near the server.  I might end up making a little storage / stowage box for the lot of them and let the server live on top of the UPS — or something — still thinking about that.  Yesterday I had pencil and paper out trying to figure a way to have Home Depot cut all the major cuts I needed for the parts out of a single handi-panel — 24″ x 24″.  That didn’t look like it was going to work.  So, I’m still contemplating.  Of course it’s possible I’ll figure out how to do it and then 2 days after I build it I’ll find just what I want at Bed, Bath, and Beyond in La Crosse or something…. Isn’t that always the way it goes?

babyTurtleI should have baked bread yesterday.  But I was too lazy to go down to the basement (meaning go outside in the rain) to get out my two jars of flour.  I’m terrible; I know.  It’s not like I’ll melt in the rain!

We saw our smallest turtle yet on the road yesterday.  Most of the painted turtles we’ve seen have been 5″ – 9″ in diameter.  Yesterday we saw one that was scarcely as large as a quarter.  One of the students thought he might be a year old hatchling — seeing as it’s too early in the season for them to be hatching yet. But he was a teeny thing.

geeseThere are a flock of geese here raising their young and I’m developing a better sense for the expression “silly goose”!  Peg has spent a good while just watching the babies and moms and dads and uncles and aunts meandering around the campground.  We’re accustomed to being hissed at by now.  And we do our best not to intentionally irritate them. That said — it’s still a strange life they lead!  And we’re also appreciating how LONG the hatching season must be — some of this seasons chicks are quite large already with feathers and some are still quite small and dressed in only their baby fluff.  When you live in the city and see maybe ONE robin’s nest and only those chicks it’s not so easy to get the sense of Spring as a season for babies — and not just a singular TIME for babies.  I know that sounds stupid but I never lived on a farm, and never spent much time around baby critters.  The idea that there’s enough time for them to mature for their winter flight South if they are born 2 or 3 months after the earliest broods just never crossed my mind.

Well, there you have it for today.

Tomorrow — Wednesday — is moving day.  Not sure if I’ll write in the morning, or after we make the move — a lot depends on what the skies look like when I wake up.  Talk to you then.

Old Diary

Productivity, Finally

busy beaverI must have saved up enough energy to overcome inertia ‘cuz I got a LOT done yesterday.  None of it is picture worthy, but I am really happy with the results.  And we had felafel for supper. Nice end to a busy day!

Some of the rush was in preparation for a quickie trip to Milwaukee today, but we also got in a nice long walk, I got some serious reading done, and I sorted out some electrical snags and wiring. It’s amazing I can summarize so quickly what took a few hours.

On the continual downsizing front, the Tower and 30″ display will return to Milwaukee with us.  Also our cast iron cookware which is heavy to begin with, difficult for Peg to clean (weight), and is a duplication of stainless cookware we have.  There are a bunch of other items that have also gone back to Milwaukee to live.

We finally contacted our insurance agent.  He had made beneficiary changed for us and botched up the paperwork for one of them.  Hoping to accomplish all our chores in a single trip he finally called back and we will meet him for a cuppa at Panera Bread.

It might have been nice to spend the night with Kathryn & Michael but we’ve learned that leaving your coach unattended overnight at Corps of Engineers sites is frowned upon, so we’ll make it over and back in one day.  The only negative is that with high temps forecast for the day we’ll be leaving the A/C turned off and hope it’s cooled down by the time we return.  The heat pump in this coach works pretty well, but it does have it’s limits!

So, that’s going to be it for today.  I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Old Diary

A look at our site and environs

Our "SPOT" for 2 weeks.

Our “SPOT” for 2 weeks.

Life is good at Thomson Causeway. This is one of our favorite places (thus far). To show just how pleasant it is, the Fee Collector (Carl) and his wife have been coming here for 16 years! Our spot — 001 — sits right on the end of the causeway and we get the inspector’s eye on everyone coming in and going out.

Our Route

Our Route

We’re working on getting back in shape. To that end we are walking as much as our legs will allow and right now we’re doing at least one 2 mile walk each day. The last two days the route has taken us across the causeway and over to the other campground. Nice walk — but a lot of sun in this 90º heat.

The Campgrounds

The Campgrounds

I think that last year I might have mentioned that there are about 170 sites here. Most are reservable, but the sites from 29 to 78 are designated first come first served — and they go quickly — being right on the river.

New Bathrooms

New Bathrooms

They’ve been pouring money into this location and here’s a view of the newest addition, a nice shower house with flush toilets.

The students work so hard they walk right out of their boots.

The students work so hard they walk right out of their boots.

For the last 20+ years a professor from University of Iowa has been conducting research on the Painted Turtle population here. Students arrive near the beginning of June and hang around until the turtles stop mating. The males never come out of the water; just the females to lay their eggs. From the crew of 12-15 college students most of them spend their long, long days looking for turtles heading ashore to lay eggs. They are measured, evaluated, and some of the eggs are dug up to be hatched at the lab — most remain here to hatch naturally. The reason for digging them up is that they are researching the impact of temperature upon the gender of the baby turtles. Evidentally the ambient temperature when the turtles are in their egg determines which will emerge male and which female.

The poor fella who had to go wading through the lilly pads in search of MALES seems to have walked right out of his boots. That’s an unenviable job he got. But I haven’t been able to tell if they switch this job off among them. They’ll be leaving — probably — a few days after we head up to Blackhawk Park / De Soto, WI.

That was most of today. We have decided to make a quick trip to Milwaukee on Saturday. The bank is open so we can make a safety deposit box drop, and see our daughter Kathryn, and put some more things in storage. Times to do this before we get too far from Milwaukee are dwindling and we are trying to lighten our load — not by force, but by realizing that some of the things we brought we just wont use.

All in all — a great day. And while I’m at it — today is the 44 1/2 anniversary of our marriage. I’m still as crazy for my sweetie now as I was then. We’re really blessed.