Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Growing Up in the Frericks Backyard

While we didn’t go anywhere the weekend after Mother’s Day, we did still get to be in close touch with nature.

In an earlier blog I showed this nest picture, where Mama Cardinal had nestled her eggs behind the angel statue on our back patio.

Mama Cardinal was not happy when we came out to the patio so we tried to give them the backyard as much as possible. When we came out she would fly the nest in a panic but swoop about nearby and make a lot of racket until she felt safe coming back to roost.

All 4 baby birds hatched in mid-May.

Papa Cardinal was very attentive once the little one’s had hatched and did his fair share of bringing food to the nest.

In only 2 weeks the little one’s were out of the nest and testing their wings. I know all babies are suppose to be beautiful but its hard to believe this homely little guy will someday look like his handsome father!

At first Mama and Papa would push them back in to the nest apparently wanting to get them as strong as possible before they were out for good. Now, they’ve officially flown the nest and are flying enough to make their home in the fir trees on the side of our house. They are really lucky we don’t have a lot of dogs and cats running lose in our neighborhood because these little guys are pretty helpless for awhile when they start testing their wings and end up hopping around on the open ground. At that point, there's no way back to the nest and no way safe from all the predator's at ground level until they get those little wings working.

We are using the patio again but it's been really interesting sharing it with this growing Cardinal family! And since the whole family is still hanging around, they must enjoy Ken's 'green thumb'.

The Clematis,

now in about it's 10th year.

And Ken's roses,

the Rose Mystic Meidiland

..the Rose Sevillana

...of course, it could be they just enjoy the view from the patio as much as we do!

Hugs, C

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mother’s Day - Part 2

Mother’s Day was another gorgeous May day. Ken made breakfast for me. Mike made breakfast for Jackie.

And big-brother Kenny read Alan the riot act for eating chips and soda for breakfast

Jackie opened hand-made Mother’s Day gifts from her kids.

The invasion soon began with all of Ken’s brothers and sisters, there kids, and grandkids---probably about 60 in all.

They ranged in age from new 4-month old baby Cyril Knuffman.

To Uncle John, age 94.

And Ditka and Sox had no lack of new friends.

….frolicking with little Isabella

….and Erin’s dog, Brody.

Michael, as the oldest brother, lead the before meal blessing…

...and then it was time to dig in!

Besides Mother’s Day there were other things to celebrate as well…

Erin’s graduation from University of Missouri with a Marketing degree.

Jennifer brought her fiancé, the new David in the family, for his first introductions to the Frericks clan.

Most of the day was spent just kicked back enjoying the lovely day and family time together.

…Kenny listening to the sage advice of big sister, Kay.

…Lydia blowing bubbles

I even got all the brothers and sisters (Jane not in attendance) together for one shot in front of the picture of Dad in his 1931 Chevy.

After a supper of leftover goodies and deer brats courtesy of brother David, Ken and I packed up and headed back into Quincy.
We stopped at the dump station in Gardner Park and after settling 'Baby' in to her weekday parking spot headed home.

It was a wonderful Mother's Day weekend, with wonderful weather, wonderful family....

Hugs, C

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mother's Day Weekend - Part 1

We spent the weekend at the Hills of St. Francis, where the Frericks family has been celebrating Mother’s Day for decades. ‘Baby’ snuggled in next to brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Jean’s 38’ foot Coachmen fifth-wheel.

Kyle and Trevor, and Ken’s sister and her husband, Kay and Roger, arrived in time to sample some of Ken’s Friday evening cookery.

Saturday we headed back in to town with Kyle so he could get a couple more suits. He will be doing an internship with the Dupage County State’s Attorney in Wheaton, IL, this summer and needs the full-suit look for being in court every day.

When we got back to the hills, there were more Frericks campers arriving. Michael's daughter, Jackie, and her husband, Mike, arrived with their new camper and brother, Alan, and his wife, Nancy, came in with the trailer/camper they use to carry Dad Frericks' antique Chevy.

Sox and Ditka made quick friends with Alan and Nancy’s 6-month old Goldendoodle, named Stevie. 6 months -- he's gonna be huge!!!

And got plenty of attention from Jackie and Mike’s kids, Cole and Molly.

Kyle and Trev made it up again, just in time for dinner, of course!

After each family did our own thing for dinner, we gathered around the campfire for the evening.

Molly found her preferred spot with great-uncle Alan.

That’s it for Friday/Saturday…We’ll jump into Mother’s Day with Part II!

Hugs, C

PS. Al – less words and more pictures, just for you!!!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Spring Fling with Howard’s RV

This is Howard RV’s Spring Fling weekend at the Pin Oak Creek RV resort, southwest of St. Louis.

Friday, Ken picked me up in the Gardner Denver parking lot at lunchtime so we could hit the road in time to miss St. Louis rush hour. This is really nice for me because I'm able to get out of all the packing and hookup....thanks, so much, Kenny, dear!

We traveled much lighter this weekend in terms of added responsibilities. Since we knew we’d be staying at the campgrounds all weekend, we did not tow the jeep.

Ken did get new tires on it this week after last week’s stupid rookie move with not unlocking the steering.

Ken said it really doesn’t make much difference in how it felt driving down the road without the toad, but he loved how nice it was to travel with little traffic and no wind!! We did appear to get about 10mpg which we are very happy with at this point.

With a 3-hour route that Ken’s familiar with I can comfortable setting in to my ‘office on the move’. As Ken drives, because of the way the seatbelt is attached in these new Flexsteel seats, I can turn my seat all they way around and work at the little desk behind me to work, download pictures or compose this blog.

On trips like this one I can continue to tie up lose ends for the week with work on the way to the campsite and the blog can be completed and published by the time we get home! Ken is usually listening to a ballgame so my attention isn’t missed.

Since Trev was home this weekend, we left the dogs with him. That is a big adjustment. I didn’t realize how much time we spent coordinating around them, getting them packed, getting them out, getting them fed. But, I do miss them even if they are a bit of a hassle, especially as I write this and all the people are walking by our site with their pups on morning walks. Ditka and Sox always seem to be able to make introductions easy with everyone in the park.

We were in the campground by 3pm. These are full hookup sites and we are getting pretty quick with the electric, water and sewer hookups by this time.

I had finally convinced Ken we needed a set of gravity chairs and I’m pleased with these that we found on sale. We have some really nice straight chairs I was given by my sister’s family for my birthday. They are very comfortable for normal day use, but if you’re looking for really kicking back these gravity chairs can’t be beat.

It was only a short time after we were set up before folks started dropping by the the Howard's RV group started mingling. We officially kicked off the even to a 6pm BBQ.

After dinner Friday evening we all sat around to talk, roast marshmallows and enjoy some Karaoke.

In fact the music even pulled a few couples out onto the grassy dance floor!

Saturday, we had breakfast with the group and then started a group trivia contest. The idea was that there were 100+ questions on the trivia sheet and each person had 2 of the answers on their sheet. So you have to find the people in the club that had the answers you were missing. Ok, we got 80% of the answers by working with a big group of people. But then, my ‘computer geek’ nature got the better of me and within minutes of getting back to the RV I had googled, not just some of the answers, but actually found the entire set of trivia questions and their answers. I decided as a matter of integrity, considering there was $600 in Howard’s Camp Store gift certificates, that I’d better disqualify myself at that point. However, I didn’t give Ken the answers since he was trying really hard to get a good score just by talking to everyone.

I was thrilled, when I checked my emails mid-day Saturday, to get an update from my Aunt Ruth. She has been having some serious health problems and is recovering from major surgery. I only have 3 aunts and 2 uncles left out of 35 so they become increasingly precious. Aunt Ruth is amazing. She says she spent the morning reading my blog and mentioned that she and her children/grandchildren do a Saturday morning family instant message chat to stay in touch. My mom had never touched a keyboard in her entire life. It makes it so much more enjoyable to be able to do this blog knowing its working as a way to keep in touch with loved ones all over. And, by the way, to those in the Duesterhaus family that might be reading, if you have misplaced or haven’t received your info on the summer family reunion in Lake St. Louis, email me and I’ll make sure you get a copy. On the way home this weekend, Ken and I are going to check out some campsites in Cuivre Creek State Park which are only about 20 miles away from the reunion site on Hwy 61. We’ll see if that would work for extending a visit to the reunion. The state part website gives some conflicting info on campsite slopes so we want to confirm the sites would work for us.

We have met a lot of great people here this weekend and in the process started getting even more ideas on events to attend and campgrounds to visit. After talking with a few fellow Coachmen motorhome owners we're expecting to attend both the Missouri and Illinois state rallies this year. With my limited time away from a fulltime job you can back a lot of fun in these extended weekend rallies. And some are amazingly good deals. For example, the Missouri rally is only $50 for a couple, including 2 nights camping with electric, and multiple meals and activities.

We also met a couple from the St.Louis area who put us on to a campground another 50 miles down the road that they say is a hidden treasure (ok, to the extent something is a ‘hidden treasure’ once its been blogged). It’s called Arlington River Resort in Newberg, Mo.

This is Bruce and Pat and their wonder-dog, Sport-E, who is a real sweetheart. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet then again at Arlington in July. I’m sure Sox, Ditka and Sport-E could become great buds!

Saturday night was full of wonderful food, fun and new friends. There’s nothing like eating a very nicely done chicken marsala while camping. The caterers for the weekend were top-notch. After dinner Eric Jenkins, our Howard's salesman, who we now consider first and foremost a good friend (guess that says something for Howard’s, Coachmen and Eric!) came by with his lovely girlfriend, Kim. I took it as quite a compliment when someone ask if Kim was my daughter! Take good care of that girl, Eric, or I might have to bring Trev around to help take her off your hands!

Kim and Eric joined in cheering Ken on as one of the 10 finalists from the day’s trivia game to get to play in the Wheel of Fortune game. Ken had awful luck on spins with 3 bankrupts but still have lots of fun with the game.

One of the winners ended up being Dale, also known as Dr. RV, who, with the help of a little Captain Morgan, and a designated driver on the game keyboard, made the game a real hoot for the audience with all his lively commentary.

Ken asked Dale to drop by the coach and look at a minor glitch where an electrical cord seems to be getting hooked up under the bedroom slide. Well that was a ‘duh’. Ken was trying to find a place in the outside compartments to get to the wiring. Dr. RV Dale simply pulled out a drawer in the bedroom, they found the wire, and adjusted it.

Another job well done by Dr RV!!

This weekend has been the closest so far to our dream of RV travel and camping...meeting great people, sharing laughs and stories and fostering some ongoing friendships with some really neat people. It seems that in these groups and campgrounds it doesn’t matter whether you pull in with a $500K 40 ft DP or a 20 year old tent popup, nobody cares and treats everyone the same. Everybody is there to kick back, relax and just enjoy life and each other.

We were sorry to see that a few of the people we enjoyed being with so much at this event were not in Coachmen products (for example, Howard’s also sells Damon), so we won’t be meeting them at the Coachmen rallies. Of course, there is always Goods Sam’s, or Escapees club rallies, or something new we found out about this weekend called Eagle Fleet, that as folks call them are ‘non-denominational’ clubs, not requiring you to have a certain type of RV to join.

Sunday morning everyone met for pastries and good-byes and a few last minutes peeks into each others units to see the cool toy ideas everyone had. Dale had these great tire pressure monitors that give you an easy visual of whether you are running at the right tire pressure on each of the six tires. He and Ken also had a nice talk about how and where you might add a wine cooler which sounds like Dale's next project.

As we headed out, we saw diesel prices at Mr. Fuel at exit 257 on I-44 were $2.58, the cheapest we’d seen in some time, so we exited there, first exchanging honks good-bye with Bruce and Pat who had followed us out of the park. Ken loves any chance he gets to use that big ol’ air horn.

We took a detour to Cuivre River State Park which is a few miles off Hwy 61 at Troy, Mo. This looks like a great RV spot when wanting a place on the north side of St. Louis. They have a nice visitor’s center where we stopped to talk to the park ranger. He explained that it was about another 4 miles to the campground and the warnings on the website about grades difficult for inexperienced drivers were due to the road from the visitor’s center to the campground being narrow, curvy with some steep hills. He indicated that it is not a problem for anyone taking adequate care and rigs our size went through there all the time. However, they’ve had incidents where people with towables lost control of their trailer because they didn’t take it slow. The ranger said that once they were officially in summer season, he would open the ‘emergency exit’ road on Sundays allowing one-way traffic out of the campsite. This would improve the safety of the drive when people were visiting the beach for the day.

This park has full hookup sites, a beach, a lake and lots of trails. One trail does a full 4 mile trek around the lake which looks interesting to me. The fool hookup sites are $20, $16 for Seniors/disabled.

Our timing was not particularly good to be doing a sightseeing tour of the campgrounds since there was a steady stream of rigs headed out from the campsites after what the campground host indicates was an ‘at capacity’ weekend. We decided we had the information we needed and decided not to attempt going against the stream on the narrow road.

‘Baby’ really gets to feel like a part of the family at the conclusion of this adventure. Ken brought her to the house so she could get a bath tomorrow.

We’ll leave this adventure with a nice comforting seen we came home to in our backyard.

This is a redbird nest wedged between the siding on our house and an angel statue that I had perched on the patio. This mama bird made sure she had a guardian angel for her babies!

Hugs, C