Sunday, July 22, 2007

‘The Brians’ at Siloam State Park

Ken started the weekend early. Our good friends from Atlanta, Dave and Donna, have a son 14-year-old son, Brian, who was spending a month here in Quincy on his grandparent’s farm. Ken set up an RV outing to Siloam State Park with him and our 13-year-old great-nephew, Brian.

The boys arrived 1:oo Thursday. Grandma Baker included lots of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the farm when she dropped of Brian, (hereafter referred to as ‘Big B’) and our niece Theresa brought a bike along with ‘Little B’ so there would be 3 bikes for the 3 boys.

Ken immediately put the ‘B’s to work loading the RV and hooking up the jeep. They helped him run through the ‘pre-flight’ checklist and soon were on the road.

They were immediately greeted by the Siloam natives when they pulled in the park. When they stopped to fill the fresh water tank, they spied a curious mama deer and her fawn nearby. The boys were able to get within 25 yards of them, before they bolted back in to the forest.

Ken was able to get our favorite Siloam campsite, #45A. Siloam does not take reservations and has electric only sites. We think this is one of the reasons this beautiful park is seeing less business. People like knowing that they have a spot they want before spending the gas to get to the park. Ken knew that by arriving mid-day Thursday he would have plenty of sites to pick from.

The B’s helped with the guiding duties to back Baby into her spot. During unloading time, the RV basement compartment keys were misplaced. Although neither B had touched the keys, it was the started of the running joke for the weekend, the problems Ken was having with the ‘damn kids’. He was actually very lucky because after using the jeep for a camp ground tour and to go fishing, the keys feel to the ground from the back of the jeep, while stopped to make cell phone calls. Apparently Ken had placed them on the spare tire while unloading the bicycles and they’d fallen between the tire and the tailgate. It was real luck that they just happened to fall out when they closed and not while they were driving around!

The Illinois white-tail population wasn’t in question this day. The guys saw a couple of deer as they drove down to the boat dock, and then a couple more on their way back to the campsite. On weekdays when the camper population is down the deer population is quite visible, but once the weekend comes along with more campers and activity the deer retreat into the woods and remain out of sight.

There were foil dinners and sweet corn over open fire for supper. Ken’s usually excellent grilling skills seemed to be knocked off balance a bit as the meals and corn came out on the overdone side. (Ok, I like to think we work better as a team!).

Of course, the boys wanted to make sure I was aware that Ken burned the supper and not the ‘damn kids’.

After dinner the threesome headed down to the lake and fished off the dock until sunset. They could see lots of fish in the very clear spring water but didn’t catch any.

Back at the RV they snacked and watched a DVD, ‘Employee of the Month’.

It was bedtime about midnight after some time of negotiating who would sleep where.

At 6am, Friday, Ken took the dogs out while The B’s were still sleeping soundly so Ken came back in and slept until 10:00. He then did scrambled eggs, sausage and potatoes for breakfast. I figure those must have been good or The ‘B’s would have been sure to let me know.

On the way to the boat dock the guys stopped in front of one of the restrooms where they could pick up a cellular signal. They check in with home and I found out that the boys were not ready to come home in the afternoon and instead preferred the Theresa and Jim bring me out to the park and we extend their time a bit longer with an evening meal.

When the guys got to the boat dock they encountered another slight hangup.

Illinois State Parks require that all watercraft launched from their properies have a state registration, even non-motorized inflatables like our SeaEagle. Ken got the information on how to apply for the 3-year license and will send in next week.

The boat licensing issue called for reverting to ‘plan B’ and renting a rowboat for a couple of hours. Again they weren’t having much luck with the fish, but The ‘B’s got to give Ken a lot of ribbing since his he was rowing the boat with one oar different from the other causing the boat to want to go anywhere but where they wanted.

At about 6:30pm Theresa, Jim and I arrived with brats. Ken did the grilling while Teresa and Jim walked down to the lake were The B’s were fishing off the dock. We had a classic summer meal of brats, beans, corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Jim recognized a camper next door who came over to visit with him and we talked about their dream of fulltiming in a vehicle like ours some day. The B’s headed out for one last trek around the campground by bike.

It was nearly dark when we loaded The Bs in to Jim and Theresa’s van for their trip back to Quincy.

I did a short bike ride in the dark to the sound of cicadas and the ebb and flow of fireside chatter as I passed the occupied sites. There’s very little light pollution in this park and so the only light was the moonlight the stars and the patches of campfire light. It was a wonderfully cool, clear evening so we enjoyed our campfire for an hour or so and than headed in to sleep.

As has become the norm, Ken and I both sleep exceptionally well in the motorhome. It was especially nice to be able to sleep with all the windows open and drift off to the night sounds. The owl that was a neighbor several months ago when we were here is still making his presence known, but seems to have moved his hunting ground a little farther from our site since we can hear him now but it’s not like he’s right next door. We were awakened by the dos going bonkers at one point in the night. It was apparent the next morning that we had a midnight visit from a raccoon since he had left pawprints all over the picnic table and tore a whole in the container of bait worms. The worms were gone but I find it hard to believe that a raccoon with a whole campground of garbage containers to choose from would be eating our earthworms!

It was a purposefully quiet weekend for us.

I walked the full campground with the dogs and then came back to fix breakfast and enjoy time together out under the awning.

Ken worked on fixing his rod n reel.

Our friend Katie who was here the last time we came to Siloam, came by several times to play with the dogs.

We also took a couple of bike rides with her.

This was my first outing with my new bike. It’s a Wal-Mart bike, nothing fancy, with 7 speeds. Definitely a different breed from my 35-year-old English racing bike, rest its soul, but proved to be a pretty good fit for the campground.

Mid-afternoon we walked down with the dogs to the closest dock so Ken to test out the repair work on his rod n’ reel. The repair job proved out to be really successful but we decided not to stay to actually fish since the dock was crowded with kids and fishing poles already.

Ken decided a late afternoon naps was in order and we ended up watching a movie ‘Revenge’ with Kevin Kostner and Anthony Quinn. It turned out that the movie was good enough to keep Ken’s eyes open instead of just a way to fall asleep!

We grilled out and enjoyed a campfire again. The sky was really clear and the cicada’s were only interrupted by the sound of the kids nearby playing red rover. It actually was getting quite cool so we both showered and hit the sack early. We even threw another quilt on the bed, enjoying another really great night’s sleep.

Sunday we decided to do a thorough RV cleaning after breakfast. We dusted, cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, scrubbed counters and the floors---it was amazing how quickly you can get through housecleaning in a house this size!

Since I really want to be sure I can do everything with the RV myself, I challenged Ken to let me do all of the guy-stuff part of the teardown and prep to leave, dis-assembling the grill, and packing it, getting the awnings up, loading bicycles on the jeep, disconnecting electricity, etc., It was really hard for Ken to keep his hands off but I got through it.

I then drove to the dump station while Ken drove the jeep—another first, driving the motorhome without anyone else in it! I did the grey water and black water dump on my own, then Ken decided to backflush the tanks while I hooked up the jeep for towing. Ken said I did fine and I think if I had to I could do the whole things on my own now though I need to do this every once in awhile to make sure I stay in practice for times when Kenny may not be up to it.

We got home in time for Ken to turn around and head out to what little B’s big brother, James, race out at Quincy raceways. In fact, he picked up big B on the way, so The Brians will be ending the weekend with Kenny as well.

Next weekend we will be splitting the family with Trevor and Ken taking the motorhome to Mahomet, IL, for a benefit golf outing for the Eastern Illinois University football team. Kyle and I will stay here in Quincy since Kyle will have his 4 wisdom teeth pulled on Friday. Ken promises that he there will be another first as he’ll take the pictures and do the blog writing for next week’s Frerx Adventures!

Hugs, C

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Gasconade River and Archway Coachmen Weekend

We had parked Baby in front of the house Thursday evening and so were able to make it out of Quincy by 9am on Friday morning. It was another milestone for me as I drove Baby from home for the first 60 miles of the trip. This included Quincy, four lane highways, the Hannibal bridge, Hannibal interchanges, and two lanes on Route 19.

Ken was right about the adjustment on the air ride. It is very easy to drive the motorhome now and it requires very little steering to track straight with no noticeable sway.

Ken took over after an hour because the traffic even on the two lane wanted to be going more than 55 mph and that is my max while ‘in training’.

The trip through middle Missouri was pretty, especially as we got into the Ozarks in the last half of the trek. I’m it would be gorgeous in the autumn.

We arrived in Newberg, Mo, at about 1pm.

Pat and Bruce who had told us about the Arlington River Resort had also cautioned about not letting initial impressions set the tone for our opinion of the place. The drive in is on old road in bad need of repair and the resort is actually behind what appear to be an old deserted town of Arlington.

The campground is now operated by a young couple who purchased it when they returned from their army deployment in the Middle East. They are very accommodating and keep the area very nice once you are back in the park.

They gave the Coachmen group an comfortable grassy area with some shade in the middle of the campground.

Here’s Baby once again amid her fellow Coachmen buddies. We were at first surprised not to have real drives to park on but in the end it actually made the campground prettier with less gravel and more green.

We said our hellos to the Coachmen Club members and took some time for lunch.

Bruce and Pat don’t have a Coachmen so weren’t here as part of the club. Instead they bring their Damon Challenger down for the entire month of July. It is too bad that this park is so far away from Quincy because they are only paying $150 to set the RV here and use it on weekends. That pays for itself quickly when you consider gas prices and works well for St. Louis folks who are only about 90 minutes away.

Mid-afternoon we took the dogs for a long walk down by the Gasconade River which borders the campground.

Sox loves the water!

The group got together for hot dogs and carry-ins at dinner.

We took another walk, this time up to the front office to check on getting a ride the next day for a float trip on the Gasconade. They provide shuttle service to a point 5 miles up river for $10 so see signed up to head out at noon on Saturday.

Bill and Don, were grill masters for Saturday morning pancakes and sausage.

After breakfast we participated in our first official meeting of the Archway Coachmen club at members

Ken’s younger brother, Alan, who lives in Springfield, Mo. was taken into the hospital and ended up having triple bypass surgery on Saturday. He’s only 49 years old and Ken was very concerned and glad for check-ins from his wife that all was going well.

Bill Petty was kind enough to transport us in his truck up to the front office so we could catch our noon shuttle. As it turned out there were actually 3 van loads of people headed to the river. We were amazed that it seemed to take about 30 miles of driving through hills and hollers to get five miles up river. The $10 for the shuttle service was definitely worth it, especially since all of the area along the Gasconade is privately held so having the canoe rental company shuttle us meant we also had a put-in spot.

It took very little time to air up ‘Marge’ and we had on her on the river before some of the folks had even gotten in that were renting. I think she got a lot of attention because of how she went from such a compact package to a full size boat so quickly.

The Gasconade was the perfect first outing for Ken and me. It didn’t really require any skill so we could mess around, paddle when we wanted to and float when we didn’t. We jumped into the water now and then to stay cool and usually could see the bottom it was so clear.

The bluffs along the river were very lush and green. There were plenty of turtles basking in the sun and…

The heron even allowed us to get very close for a picture before making a very majestic take off over our boat.

We didn’t risk taking the good camera on our first outing but we know now it should really be a problem. The SeaEagle Paddleski 395PS is very stable with no problems jumping in and out of the boat and still having it stay very level. My little ole’ Fuji camera didn’t do bad though.

As you can see here though, I did the paddling while Ken took most of the pictures! Actually I liked it that way since I could sort of get the hang of the paddles and steering on my own.

Sorority girls get themselves stuck
Of course, Ken’s idea of ‘wild life’ photography included the sorority sisters who had ridden over with us from the RV park.

We stopped on a gravel bar after a few miles for a snack.

It was about 4pm when we floated around the bend to see the Arlington take-out area.

We enjoyed a comfortable evening meal with lots of good conversation. We were amazed how tired we were and were in bed by 10pm.

We woke to the sound of thunder Sunday morning but the threatened rains never materialized.

Pat and Bruce joined the rest of us for a contintental breakfast and we took our time packing up after.

We decided since Ken was now very comfortable with the motorhome handling to try a different route home and heading back on I-44 and Hwy 47 around St. Louis. Hwy 47 is not Ken's favorite now that he's seen the narrow bridge at Washington and how narrow the road is for most of the drive. It was worth checking out though since now we know going down through Jeff City to Arlington RV Park is the better route.
Another nice weekend that ended far too quickly!!
Hugs, C

Sunday, July 8, 2007

4 Days in Sycamore, IL: Lessons Learned

About 10pm Wednesday night, on the 4th of July, after helping with the picnic cleanup, Kyle and Trevor headed off in Kyle’s GMC Jimmy for Kyle’s townhouse in Dekalb.

Late Thursday morning, July 5th, Ken and I followed them north to the Sycamore RV Resort which was about 10 miles from Kyle’s apartment in Dekalb. Since, when he called to confirm our reservations, Ken was told that there was no checking in allowed before 3pm, we took our time, and stopped for a picnic lunch at the I-74 rest area.

Lesson Learned: The I-74 rest stop at milemarker 28 has a dump station – very unusual in Illinois! (We will keep this in mind when using an electric-only site next time since this can be better than waiting in line at a campground).

Lesson Learned: At the halfway point of 250 miles, the perfect break for us is 45 minutes or so at a rest stop where we can take the dogs for a long walk and then kick back in the shade for sandwiches, and cutup fruits and veggies (leftover from the picnic). This is a much healthier and restorative break than a McDonald’s stop by a long stretch!

For Ken this was an exceptionally good drive. Last week he had taken the RV by the scales to check weight and distribution and then to Freightliner to have ride height checked on air ride. It was ¼ inch off in the front, so Freightliner made an adjustment. Ken said he is absolutely amazed at the difference it has made in handling. It holds a much tighter line on the road now even during wind gusts.

Lesson Learned: Suggest that anyone buying a DP have the air ride height checked after delivery. Even a small variation makes a big difference in handling. (Thanks so much to whoever suggested this to him!!)

We arrived at the Sycamore RV Park at approximately 4pm.

Although ‘Baby’ was snuggled in with a view of the lake, this resort definitely did not have the ‘IT’ factor. The RV’s were packed closely together, we had no grass and lots of hot gravel. The owner also seemed to be much more concerned about insuring everyone understood and followed his many rules than concerned about friendliness or hospitality. That being said, the place is full and was very neat and clean, so his rules obviously work to his advantage.

Lesson learned: It just becomes increasingly clear to us that we are more state, federal and COE park people, where there is a lot more nature and without the feeling of being in the middle of someone else’s business.

After settling in we took a walk around to check out our surroundings.

Here’s Ken and dogs, checking out the rows of crop on the RV Farm. They all seem to have tassled (note all the antennae!)

They also seem to grow a fair crop of satellite dishes in spots where they have just the right access to the southern sky.
Lesson Learned: DirectTV as RV Satellite TV provider is winning 4 to 2 over DishNetwork in this random polling. We may switch when our contract is up at home but still haven't found need for the satellite hookup in RV.

Since we chose not to pull the jeep this weekend, Kyle and Trev came by about 6pm and we went to O’Leary’s Bar and Grill in downtown Dekalb for dinner. This is one of Kyle’s preferred hangouts so its nice to get to go to places like this.
Lesson learned: Bartenders in Dekalb know our son on a first name basis!

We then went by Kyle’s apartment since I’d never had a chance to see it in the whole year he’s live there. Unfortunately I forgot the camera. It was actually pretty clean for a townhouse shared by 4 guys. Of course, right now, Kyle’s the only one working in the DeKalb area this summer so he has it all to himself for awhile.

Lesson learned: Law students keep much neater apartments than football players!!

We had originally planned on doing the Brookfield Zoo on Friday but with the heat, Ken wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea of walking around a zoo he’d already seen.

Lesson Learned: I'd almost forgotten that planning and flexing plans to meet one man’s needs makes for a much simpler world than when I have all 3 of my men wanting different things - Kyle was still in favor of the zoo idea, and Trev wanted to go downtown Chicago and just wander around the big city!

So, finally instead of the zoo, I suggested that we take a daytrip to check out the nearest state park, Shabbona Lake, especially considering we knew we’d have to come back to this area again to camp and weren’t getting the ‘IT’ factor from Sycamore RV Park. This also allowed Kyle and Trev to sleep in a bit longer, showing up at our site about 11am to make the trip.

Shabbona Lake State Park is actually not much farther from Kyle than the Sycamore RV park since it is highway driving, and it definitely appears to have the ‘IT’ factor. It is actually about 25 miles less driving for us from Quincy and drops off the $8 in tolls from I-88. Since we know in 10 months we need to be back to DeKalb for Kyle's graduation, Shabbona definitely will get at least one visit from us in the next year.

Fishing and prairie grasslands appear to be the primary features of this park.

Here the guys are checking out one of several boat docks where we could put in the SeaEagle.

Nothing above 10 hp motors are allowed on the lake making it great for thee kayakers who were out enjoying the sunny July day.

The building Kyle is walking away from is an onsite restaurant in the park with indoor and outdoor dining, offering local fish specialties, like walleye and catfish. They have great soft serve ice cream as well!

We drove the campgrounds section that has 150 electric-only sites, both reservable and non-reservable. Most are fully wooded sites, there were a couple of really nice reservable sites that had awesome views of the lake.

The park also has seven different hiking trails. One is set up as a special educational nature trail with a cassette tape narrative available for you to follow and learn as you hike.

This is definitely a park we will recommend and visit again.

It was about 2:30 by the time we left the park so we decided to stop in the little town of Shabbona for a late lunch.

As usual, we looked for the local café that appeared busy, and made a very good choice with the Kountry Kitchen.

Lesson Learned: Trev is 21 years old and doesn’t need Mommy’s help when he wants to special order something at a restaurant. Resist temptation to continue treating them like kids!

The boys dropped us back at the RV late afternoon and then drove in to downtown Chicago to spend the evening with #3 ‘son’, Luke Henke and his bride Lindsay.

Ken and I took the dogs for a walk around the lake, making a point to walk by the EarthRoamer that had arrived that afternoon. Although we’d seen them on the Internet, this was the first time we’d ever seen one of these 4x4 RV’s in person.

We had a nice conversation with our RV neighbor, David. While he said he was from Los Angeles, his accent said differently. David was originally from New Zealand but has been working construction in California most of his adult life. He said he hasn’t lived in a stick house for the last 14 years. Since his work is primarily winter season, he’s been traveling in his Fleetwood Storm for the last several months, logging over 10K miles during that time, mostly across the upper portion of the US. He’d chosen Sycamore for its proximity to O’Hare International Aiport because he had family flying in from New Zealand and Australia. For the next two months, they will be traveling with him by RV across the US. I was really glad to hear that we have foreign visitors seeing the US this way. So often, when talking with people outside the US, it seems they know nothing of the US except, New York, California, and Walt Disney World. David’s family will get to see the real USA.

As usual, Ditka and Sox caught attention of other RVers, and we struck up a conversation with a couple who dropped by to ask about the dogs. They are working toward his retirement date this winter and had recently purchased a Holiday Rambler, Presidential Suite fifth wheel. He’s had motorhomes before and now is having second thoughts that the 5er was the right direction so he was asking a lot about our rig. His ladyfriend is from Rio de Janeiro so their plan is to live in nothing but spring and summer from now on—6 months in US RVing, then 6 months in Brazil at her home. Sounds like a great plan!

Lesson learned: This weekend further confirms one of the things we most like about RVing…meeting all the interesting people! Let’s face it, how often when travelling do you meet your neighbors when staying at a hotel?!?

During their conversation, David and Ken decided to do a temporary swap of DVD’s, so although it was late, when we got back inside Ken and I turned on ‘Blood Diamond’. It was the first time I’ve watched TV in bed in my own bedroom! Since we made it a practice never to have TV’s in bedrooms at home, it felt very extravagant, staying up after midnight and watching movies in bed.

Lesson learned: It’s a tough life but somebody’s gotta do it!

Saturday, rather than fight the Chicago crowds for “Taste of Chicago”, which was the original plan, the family, Luke and Lindsay included, decided they preferred to play around at the RV and lake.

They all arrived around 1pm, in time for Ken to fix brats on the grill for Luke. To Luke this is a real treat since their Chicago apartment building is owned and mostly occupied by a Hindu religious group that doesn’t allow eating meat. The lease they signed includes a clause that they cannot grill on the patio, apparently to keep the tempting aromas away!

After lunch, Kyle, Luke and Lindsay supervised as Ken and Trev prepared our SeaEagle for its maiden voyage.

Trevor found his own preferred method of using the footpump. (I can’t even push the pump together that way one time!)

We decided to christen the SeaEagle the ‘SE Marge’ since we already have Homer leading the way inside the RV. We didn’t have any champagne bottles around so we had to make do by christening Marge with a can of Bud Lite!
Lesson Learned: Regardless the question or the problem, the answer is beer!

As we prepared to cast off, I considered christening Ken with some of the lovely shoreline muck.

Ken and I thoroughly enjoyed our first paddle across the lake. The boat is easy to steer and very stable.
Lesson learned: If Ken seems distracted, follow his line of sight to the bikini clad girl stretched out on the beach!

And, while putting Kyle and Trev on board pushes to the max the idea that this is a 2-man boat, Marge with her 650 lb capacity, didn’t seem at all bothered by the load.

On the other hand, it appears Kyle was about to knock Trev up side the head with a paddle for not pulling his part of the load.

But then, Kyle turned the tables on Trev and let him do all the rowing.

Luke took a turn with Ken. Obviously in this picture, Luke isn’t real impressed with their steering skills that has placed them in the cat tails.

After playing in the boat, the crew took a break in the air conditioning and watched the second movie we had borrowed from David, The Shooter. It was driving Ken bonkers to be inside so he grabbed Trev, the fishing gear, and Marge, and they headed back out on the lake.
Lesson learned: sitting in a boat with a fishing pole at the worst time of the day to catch fish is still better than sitting inside an RV when there's a boat and a lake outside.

As a special family treat, we’d brought steaks for the grill, along with some of the home-grown sweet corn.

Here Ken is educating the clan on his marinating secrets.

After the meal and sundown, we started a campfire and sent Trev to the store for S’mores fixin’s. Since the park has a ‘curfew’ on visitors after 11pm we said our good-byes about 10:30 and sent Lindsay and Luke with Kyle to overnight at his townhouse. Trev stayed with us since he was riding back with us to Quincy.

We took our time packing up Sunday morning. Then, as Ken, Trev and I headed out of DeKalb we, coincidentally, met Kyle at a stop sign on his way to take Luke and Lindsay to the Metra station.

One last wave good-bye and we were on our way back to Q-town, the stick house and another week of working for the weekend!

Hugs, C

Family on the Fourth

We enjoyed a comfortable Fourth of July in the backyard with family.

Folks spread out between the patio

And the shade of the trees.

There were several croquet matches.

Here’s a couple teams taking a break in the air conditioning to cool off.

There were lots of finger foods to keep us snacking through the afternoon. Then, Ken did brats on the grill for supper.

…and my brother Bobby and his wife Judy brought fresh sweet corn from the farm, which was a hit with all, especially great-nephew Brian.

As the twilight descended, the crowd dwindled as many headed off to see the riverside band concert and fireworks.

Hugs, C

The Sea Eagle Has Landed!

Monday July 2, our SeaEagle 395PS arrived, general delivery and free shipping, 6 days after ordered. We were pleasantly surprised with that turnaround since it meant we could check it out, figure out its positioning in the RV storage compartments, and have it along for our trip to Sycamore, IL. this weekend.

After dinner, Monday evening, we were able to very quickly unbox and put together the boat in our garage to insure that everything was operational.

I did all the inflation with the foot pump and was surprised how quickly this little pump had this big boat ready to go. Each side inflates separately. I think it will take a little experience to know from the ‘thump’ test when we have fully and evenly inflated. We ordered the ‘pro package’ which has upgraded seats, paddles, and a storage tote for the bow.

Since it is so quick to inflate, we probably will seldom have need to carry it inflated but it is lightweight enough for Ken and I to put on top of jeep. Obviously if do put put in on top of jeep, the storage tote will have to be unhooked first if we want to see to drive!

Stay tuned. We’ll be taking her on her maiden voyage this weekend.

Hugs, C

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Trevor turns 21!

We stayed in Quincy this weekend since both boys have the next week off and both wanted to spend at last half that time with their friends here.

Since Saturday was Trevor’s 21st birthday Ken thought it also might be wise to stick around in case they needed bail money!!

Trev had started celebrating his birthday early by going out with some guys at midnight Friday night. He got into the house about 3:30am. It looked like at noon on Saturday he had every intention of sleeping his birthday away.

Since we had planned to take him to our family favorite restaurant, El Rancherito, for lunch, we finally were able to pull him together by about 1:30.

We finished the meal off with a toast of tequila shots to celebrate his first time being able to actually order a drink at a restaurant with us.

Then they brought him some fried ice cream and sang happy birthday. Ken reminds me that we don’t really know if that was what they were singing since it was in Spanish!

Trev wanted the 80 Gig iPod so that was his gift from us, along with some accessories so he could hook it to the car speakers and also a arm band attachment so he can use it while working out.

In addition, we gave him his first really good bottle of booz! It’s a bottle of Koskenkorva vodka from Russia. I’m not a big vodka drinker but all the guys from work make a point of picking this up when in Finland since you can’t get it in US. In Finland they serve it by first putting it in the freezer in something like a ½ gallon milk carton of water, When the water is frozen, they peel away the carton and you have this big block of ice with the bottle of vodka in the middle.

We enjoyed steaks on the grill for dinner and then the boys headed out for another evening.

Ken washed the bikes and I took a test ride for a couple miles on mine. He put some new break pads on it when I got back since that seemed to be the only complaint.

Sunday morning, while the guys slept in, I joined the online chat at RV-Dreams with several other RVers. It’s really enjoyable to talk to so many people traveling all over North America. Some have been without a ‘stick house’ for a decade or more, while others like us are still exploring the lifestyle. We all learn so much from each other. I really feel that we are becoming a close community and I can’t wait to meet them all in Branson next June.

We’ve ordered our new inflatable boat. Several RV-dreamers use this same company and have had good luck with the durability and compactness for RVing. Our fill in all the details in a week when it arrives.

With the arrival of Ken’s new drugs, we’ve probably put any additional new toys on hold for a month or two. Can you imagine your are looking at the first two doses of Humira, day 1 and day 15, at a cost of $6000. Thank goodness for health insurance, our part is only $1000. It looks like monthly doses after this month will run about $1000 with our part being $200. Of course, it’s all worth that and more if after 30 years this would be miracle drug to finally help him.

We are also exploring the more all-natural, organic diets being suggested. There are a lot of proponents of variations but they all seem consistent on staying as close to unprocessed, natural foods as possible. After a suggestion from a fellow RV-dreamer, I downloaded the audiobook, The Great Physician’s Rx for Health and Wellness, by Jordan Rubin. While it has more of a religious overtone than I expected, there is also a lot of science here. Rubin was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 19. Based on the value he per He explains all the processing, chemical and hormone additives and how the contribute to disease.

Sunday we took the ‘steering wheel’ table Ken built to the RV.

I think this table helps take away the look of living in a moving vehicle. It also gives us another end table for chairs. We found a table cloth at Wal-Mart that seems to give that extra homey touch with the right colors.

Ken made it to fold down so it takes no room in the RV when we are moving.

Mid-afternoon, Sunday, Jay Nuessen came by and convinced Trevor to get out of the house and onto the links.

Kyle headed out to play cards with friends and Ken went to pick up Brian Elsworth who is visiting Quincy, to take him to the Quincy Raceway to watch great-nephew James Leffew racing his bomber.

That left me by late afternoon to write this weekend’s blog and enjoy the lovely weather on the patio.

Hugs, C