I seem to be seeing this more and more. As RVing bloggers meet and spend time together you start hearing about the same events from multiple perspectives. In this case I’m the last of the 3 bloggers to post about our wonderful day yesterday. We met in Hannibal at the Mark Twain Cave Complex where Ed and Marilyn Dray have spent a couple of months. You can read about the day from their perspective and see their pictures at their blog, Ed and Marilyn-The Happy Wanderers. While we had met with Ed and Marilyn on Saturday we had a different reason for this get-together. Fellow RVing friends, Dee and Jim Walter were coming up to Hannibal to have a visit with all of us. Dee has also published her blog on the day on her Tumbleweed blog.
Dee brought along her lovely sister, Doris, who they are visiting in Troy, MO.
We really enjoyed getting to spend time with her as well. She and Dee are obviously sisters, not just in how much they look alike but also they way they seem to enjoy life. Mama did a good job with these two girls!!
Dee and Jim had been to the same Branson RV-Dreams rally with Ed and Marilyn a few years ago. Ken and I had met Jim and Dee in April at the 2010 RV-Dreams Rally in South Carolina. Both of these couples are full-time RVers, while you might call us ‘fence sitters’ at the moment, on the road a lot but not quite at the point of ditching the house yet. It’s when we spend time with people like this that our buts on that fence definitely starts edging more toward fulltiming. We just have such a great time and really experience how carefree and flexible they are in their lifestyle.
We all arrived at Marilyn and Ed’s 5th wheel before 10:00. They invited us in to see their rig. I always LOVE this since while you might see the same rigs at RV shows, it is so different to be able to see how people actually set up and live in them full-time. Ed and Marilyn’s Mobile Suites is one of my favorites. It has gobs of cabinets space, a really large area for flat screen TV and fireplace and the bedroom/bath layout that lets Ken has his own ‘space’ in the bathroom while I can shower and have my sink separately. Marilyn also has the convection oven versus conventional and the large side-by-side refrigerator, both options I would definitely go for if doing it again. We talked about the washer/dryer. She says she now loves hers even though, like me, she hadn’t expected it would be something that important to her. I do see that there is a more ‘at home’ feeling in 5th wheels like the Dray’s over what you get in our motorhome.
To us, the downside of having a 5th wheel is driving the big dually truck around all the time, both in terms of cost of fuel and in getting around in small spaces, parking etc., We love having the jeep to get around with decent gas mileage and easy to drive and park anywhere we want to explore. Both of these full-time couples have addressed this issue by maintaining a 2nd car. Ed and Marilyn spend 4 months, 2 in Spring and 2 in Fall, in Hannibal so they leave a mini-van here that they use during those months. Jim and Dee are currently driving her car along as well as having the truck when they move the rig from place to place.
We figured we’d sit around a little while and chat before heading in to historic downtown Hannibal.
Before we knew it, it was almost noon so we scooted off in to town to have lunch at Lula Belles, which was actually a brothel in the early 1900’s. This is a restaurant that Ken and I have enjoyed in the past and, as usual, the food and service were good.
Since Marilyn was expecting to babysit her grandchildren in the afternoon, they headed back to the rig while the rest of us strolled the historic Main Street with the Native American Trading Co. the primary destination. This is the kind of store where you could spend hours just browsing all the unique jewelry, clothing and artwork.
On the way back to the campground, we stopped by Lover’s Leap, a Hannibal landmark on the bluff high over the Mississippi River.
Besides the legend of Indian lovers jumping to their deaths here, it was also the site where on October 22, 1844 a religious sect known as the Millerites gathered, donning white robes, believing that this was the time and place for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, obviously to be ultimately disappointed.
We arrived back at the Mark Twain Cave Complex to take Ed up on his offer to give us our own personalized tour of the Mark Twain Cave. There are actually 2 caves on site, Mark Twain Cave and Cameron Cave. Ed volunteers as a tour guide for both. We chose to do the Mark Twain Cave since Dee wasn’t sure how keen she was on the caving experience and since the Cameron Cave is a bit more of an adventure being much closer quarters and requiring that you wear a hardhat and carry a lantern.
Ed and Marilyn had coats and sweatshirts for us to borrow since we were going from 90 degrees in to a nice consistent year-round 52 degrees.
Ed is truly gifted at doing this kind of tour guide work.
He’s spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the works of Mark Twain to get a good understanding of how the different parts of the cave and the area in general played in to Twain’s famous novels. Ed also has a wonderful sense of humor and its easy to see why they so often ask him to do the tours for groups of young students on field trips.
While today it is against the law to deface such a national landmark, some of the really interesting tidbits along the tour were the places that people had dated and signed the walls. This is really intriguing when you think how most of these people were in this cave, leaving their mark using only candles and lanterns to find their way.
The most famous writing in this cave is the signature of Jesse James. Apparently there are numerous caves that allege to have been hideouts for Jesse James but Mark Twain cave has proof with this signature that has been verified by a handwriting specialist. Ed was actually able to put this into historical context in terms of why Jesse and Frank James would have been travelling through Hannibal at this time, en route to one of the Missouri bank robberies that occurred after they started back into being outlaws after years of living relatively normal lives in Nashville.
It’s ironic that Ken and I have lived in this area all of our lives, but neither of us can remember visiting the cave since we were in grade school 40+ years ago. I’ve been it many caves in our travels.
Who would have thought that my favorite cave tour would have been at the cave that’s always been pretty much in our own back yard!
It was nearly 4pm when we said our good-byes. We plan to be seeing Dee and Jim again in September at the Escapade in Goshen, IN. Ed and Mariilyn will be back in Hannibal again around October after summering in Colorado. And, as with all our RVing friends, next time we meet we’ll all have new adventures to share!