Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Grandpuppy Arrives!!

It's been awhile so I'll update you on some of the major events for late August.

We set a new record in August spending more days on the road than in our 'sticks n bricks' back in Quincy! We are beginning to get a much better understanding of our ability to stretch out time on our holding tanks and seem to be establishing more of a daily routine while at a site.

Trevor is recovered from his concussion and back on the EIU football field so after the August 22nd Panther Club picnic and Scrimmage we were ready to head out of Charleston and back to see Kyle again.

This time rather than work on Kyle's new house, the purpose of our Carlinville vist was to get introduced to our new grandpuppy, Staley.

First off, I had to be educated that her name comes from the name of the Chicago Bears mascot, Staley Da Bear. I guess Kyle wanted to stay with having our pets having names related to Chicago sports!!

Staley sort of 'happened upon' Kyle. One of the law firm secretaries lives on a farm and someone was cruel enough to dump this little puppy all by herself on their road, barely old enough to be weaned.

Kyle and Jenni went to see the pup and decided they would do a 'trial' weekend since they weren't sure whether they'd keep her and especially wanted to have our Quincy vet check her out before they made a final decision. So, Staley was in Quincy the first time while we were still in Charleston.

The doc here proclaimed Staley to be 'healthy' and a 'mutt' with difficulty saying she will show any specific breed similarities or exactly how big she'll get but best guess maybe 40lb range. That was all good news and so, since Kyle and Jenni had already fallen in love with the little mongrel, they got her started on her shots and we officially have a 'grandpuppy'!

We decided to take Staley on a Frerx Adventure Monday while 'daddy' was working and so took her out to Beaver Dam State Park with us to visit 'Uncle' Ditka and 'Aunt' Sox. Things went ok until Staley decided to start into her puppy rambunctiousness and Ditka got an introduction to just how sharp those little puppy teeth and paws can be when they are playing. He growled at Staley. Motherly Sox decided that Ditka was out of line with that growl and Ditka and Sox proceeded to have a knock-down-dragout fur-flying dog fight. We don't see that too often and poor little Staley had no idea what was going on except she wanted to stay as close to me as possible until the ruckus ended.

I took the shibas outside under the awning with me while I read and they settled down and apologized to each other. Staley stayed in with Ken for a long afternoon of watching the Cubs game with their eyes closed. She was out like a light for nearly 2 hours.

Staley was actually very good about NOT piddling in the motorhome. As soon as she woke up we took her outside on the grass and she immediately did her business. She is also exceptionally good at staying by us (2 shibas I know could learn from the puppy!!). We have almost a whole section of the campground to ourselves and I could walk around in the grassy area with her and she'd stay very close to me wherever I walked. She was showing similar smarts back at the house. As soon as she started to whine or go to the backdoor we'd hustle her out to the backyard and she would instantly do her business and then follow us back in to the house. The 4 steps on the deck are still a bit of a challenge since they are taller than she is but by the time we left she had those mastered with only a few minor tumbles.

Kyle and Jenni came out to the RV Monday night and we grilled salmon. Staley, Ditka and Sox did a bit more socializing. Sox seemed largely uninterested but Ditka was wary of Staley's sharp little claws and nipped back when Staley tried a playful pounce. Because Staley needs to have good social experiences with other dogs as a puppy it looks like we'll need to find some better ways to get her that socializing dog time since Ditka is not liking this at the moment.

Having been brought up in a house where we always had a house dog, Kyle seems to have a good handle on how to care for Staley and insure she grows up a loving companion but one that understands and obeys him as the 'pack leader'. I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty of complaints about 'the little mutt' as she puts them through the puppy years, chewing on anything accidentally left withing puppy range. I lost two sets of prescription glasses in our first 2 years along with several nice pairs of shoes so he has seen the costs from our experience and hopefully will be able to keep her in sight when in the house.

He took a crate from our house that works nicely in his mud room. That's where she stays when he and Jenni are at work or sleeping. She already shows her comfort with it as her 'cave' by going in to the crate on her own when she wants to nap. That's a good adjustment sign as well and helps Jenni and Kyle see that it is not cruel to put her there at night or when they are at work.

On Tuesday, Ken and I proclaimed a 'down day' and just had a quiet time around the state park. The excitement of the day was when we decided to take the dogs for a walk around the lake and we happened upon a snake that certainly fits the description of a copperhead. I wish we'd have thought to bring the camera so we could have made a better comparison but from our memories and the pictures off the internet it seemed a good match. I wasn't real keen to continue the walk after that since I really get freaked out by snakes....ugghhhh!!!. Since the last time Ditka saw a snake he picked it up and wouldn't put it down until Trevor got it away from him, I'm really glad we saw the snake before the dogs did!! I had planned originally on doing that walk without Ken. It will now take me awhile to do it again at all!!

But that was the last day there so I didn't have to force myself to 'get back on that horse' and walk the lake path again.
We've now done not quite a full week back in Quincy, doing various appointments and errands, laundry, etc., The weather has been a tease since it's been wonderfully cool, just perfect for being around a campfire, not sitting at home!!

Well, we won't be seeing Staley for awhile since football will now be the priority. We're now packing up to head back to Charleston for the home opener of the Panthers against Illinois State. This is the 98th Annual Prairie State rival game and an especially important game to the guys to win. The two-deep is out and despite his missing spring ball due to hand surgery and time out of recent practices with the concussion, Trevor has retained his starting position as Defensive Tackle. We are teasing him though that they have erroneously marked him as a R-FR, redshirt freshman instead of a R-SR, reshirt Senior so that means he has another 4 years of football! He could have his PhD by then!!--but, I'm not sure he'd have any unbroken parts of his body left!!

We'll feed the D-Line Wednesday night out at Fox Ridge but probably won't take the motorhome in for tailgating since it is a Thursday night game and Ken hates having to negotiating parking back at the campsite when its dark.
We are lucky to have nephews living in Quincy doing housesitting for us so we don't have to be real exact on our planning on when we will leave and come home. Ken hates the fact that they charge $30 a night for sites in Illinois State Parks over Labor Day so its possible we may come home before the weekend but we'll just play it by ear.
I still don't have a 'mifi' for on the road so the next installment will either be from the wifi at EIU or when we get back home again.
Until then...
Hugs, C

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Stepping Back into 1845, Lincoln Log Cabin

On Friday, we were once again faced with our worst fears regarding Trevor and football…injury.
Trevor has a tendency to practice and play beyond his size since he is actually a bit small compared to other college linemen. This means he seems to be even more prone to injury. On Wednesday, he took a bad hit and after that was playing with severe pain in his head and neck. The head trainer suggested he not see a chiropractor immediately or take any meds that might disguise symptoms but wait until the next day so they could monitor. The next day they did an Xray and sent him to the chiropractor. We set it up so we could meet him after that appointment to take him to lunch. He came out of the appointment totally dejected. The chiropractor told him that he wouldn’t touch him because it looked possible that he had a fractured vertebrate in his neck and needed to see the medical doctor. I was terrified of what such a neck injury might mean for Trevor’s longterm health and recovery. Trevor was more scared that he might be losing yet another and his last football season to injury. He did admit though that he felt so messed up from the neck up that he couldn’t seem to think straight or even seem to follow along with what was going on in the team meetings. After lunch Trevor had to go back for more meetings and therapy on his shoulder. The doctor would then be in to the training room later that afternoon to further review Trev's case.

Since, with football this all gets taken care of without the participation of Mom and Dad, Ken and I tried to take our mind off our concerns by visiting the nearby Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site.

Good ol’ Governor Rod Blagojevich had this site targeted for shutdown last year as part of his budget cuts. We are really glad that didn’t come about.

Historical Marker Describing the Site

This is the site that was home for Lincoln’s parents in Illinois. While Abraham Lincoln went on his own to Springfield and did not actually live here he was a frequent visitor as this was part of the judicial circuit he rode in his early career.

Visitor's Center

The site is totally free, although there is a place for donations – a good idea to help keep such history alive in these tough economic times.

There are a combination of volunteer and paid interpretors onsite. Too bad they don’t have some RV sites hidden away somewhere on the farm because I think they could get more volunteers as RV workampers to reduce their costs a bit more.

There is a 14-minute film that we viewed that explained the site. There are actually two farms reconstructed. One is the Lincoln farm which is based on subsistence style farming, basically growing and making enough for your family to get by. The other farm, the Sargent farm, was organized in line with the ‘market revolution’ taking place at the time, where farmers were using more mechanization, growing more crops and livestock for sale and using the proceeds to buy more of their other needs from the local town markets.

The exhibits inside the Visitor's Center give a real flavor for the 1845 lifestyle. Ken and I approach these places very differently than we did when travelling with children—its possible now to take as much time we want. By taking some time to follow through the exhibits I really felt like I had a better feel for Lincoln, the man. For example, he lost his mother at 9 years old and his father remarried shortly after. That is why Sarah Bush Lincoln, his stepmother, was to him his real mother. Having lost a parent when I was eight, this made a lot of sense to me.

He also spent quite a bit of time with the Sargents at the farm nearby. The exhibits described Mrs. Sargent as a well-educated woman who was very interested in reading works on the Swedenborg philosophy regarding a less literal interpretation of the Bible and a more universalist view of humanity. It’s thought that Abraham Lincoln’s views were influenced by his frequent visits to the Sargent household where he sometime took part in Swedenborgian religious services and study.

Totally Handmade Quilt

They have a display to totally handmade quilts in the center. The intricacy and delicacy of the stitches was spectacular.

Inside the Lincoln home with one of the 1845 Pioneers

The interpretors at the site are expected to stay in character at all times. They are very friendly, use the dialect of the time, and treat you as an unexpected but welcomed travel who has happened by their farm. Our hometown of Quincy was very familiar to them but someplace that would be many days travel. They acted confused when we mentioned Eastern Illinois University (founded later-1895) or even the game of football (first game was 1869, Rutgers vs Princeton). When they talked of Charleston, they called it Charles-town. Since its summer the women’s activities were mostly focused on cooking outdoors in a wide variety of cast iron skillets and dutch ovens, as well as garden harvesting and canning. The men were mostly busy mending the fences since there were people arriving for a Sunday horse-pull and they needed to be sure they had fenced pasture for the draft horses.

There was a special new arrival that day at the Lincoln farm. Their cow had given birth to a new baby calf that morning. We couldn’t get a picture of it because it was too far under the brush keeping cool. The men were keeping a close eye on it, however, and would have to bring it in before dark. Apparently there is a healthy coyote population in the area and the coyotes, hunting in packs, would work to separate cow and calf in order to make a meal of the little calf.

Entering the Sargent farm

Compared to the Lincoln log home the timber-frame Sargent home with its separate summer kitchen must have seemed a luxury in 1845.

Furniture making

Outside the Sargent house, one of the interpretors was working on furniture repair. The shavings from his work would be used to start the fires.

Heirloom chickens

They had to order a new batch of assorted ‘heirloom’ chickens this year and confine them to a fenced chicken pen instead of running about the yard as in the past because they were having problems with the coyotes taking them.

Chickens are friendly with the farm family

While the chickens do end up on the dinner table, it can be difficult since they seem to make friends with the family.

Sargent summer kitchen

The summer kitchen at the Sargent farm is fully functional and the ladies cook a full meal for all the families ‘living’ on the farms at lunchtime using only the tools and techniques available in 1845. We realized that the term ‘summer kitchen’ was actually a bit misleading in this case. This was the ONLY kitchen on the Sargent farm. When it was hot outside during the summer, the women were more likely to cook over an open fire pit outside of the kitchen. The fireplace in the main house was more shallow and designed to transfer heat in to the rooms so it was not set up for cooking.

This is a great place to visit if you’d like to step back in time and get to know some folks from 150 years ago. It’s best enjoyed if you step up and start a conversation and try to envision the world from their eyes. If we have a choice I think we will visit again on a weekday when we get this amount of one-on-one time but also try to make it just before lunch when we can see the real meal preparation going on.

The website also give a calendar of special events going on throughout the year that reflect the various annual festivities and events that would take place in such a setting. In fact we’d hoped to stay an extra day in the area to attend the horse-pull but changed our minds when the forecast indicated we needed to get home to mow grass before an upcoming week of rain – alas, still tethered to our sticks n’ bricks!!

We left the historic site and returned to the RV just in time to take a call from Dr. Rudert as he was finishing his exam with Trevor. We've become friends with Doc and his wife Annie and he knows that Trevor is ok with him calling us to give an update and knows we certainly appreciate it. I was thrilled to hear that Trevor did not have a vertebrate fracture but Dr. Rudert said that he did, in fact, have a concussion and would have to take it very easy the next few days as a result, not going back to training camp until headaches and dizziness were fully resolved. This was not good news but Trevor was very happy with the news since his experience with seeing other players with concussions was that he'd be back very soon. I certainly hope he doesn't rush back onto the field until he's better.

Daisies outside the pigpen

We leave you today with a picture of the lovely wild daisies, apparently well ‘fertilized’ right beside the Lincoln’s hog pen.

Hugs, C

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Exploring at Lake Shelbyville

***Be sure to look at older posts. Since we’ve only had intermittent internet access we’ve had to publish several posts all at once! ***

On Wednesday, Aug 12th, we decided to explore the Lake Shelbyville area.

We tend to get caught up in finding the unusual and in this case it was a goat tower. Ok, I’d never heard of a goat tower either and it seems this particular tower is the only one known to exist in the United States, a replica of a famous tower in South Africa.

And, yes, that is a real live goat sticking its head out. In fact, when we were driving back later in the day we passed the tower again and saw a goat climbing up the spiral even higher.

Unfortunately, there was way too much rain earlier this year and all the beaches on Lake Shelbyville have been closed for the full season.

While that seems to have put the hurt on tourism in the area, the aquatic life seemed to like having the shoreline to themselves.
We took our time driving around the lake stopping in at the various state and COE parks in the area. At midweek, all were close to empty.

I guess that is why these two fawns thought it a good time to get some exercise on the hiking trail at Wolf Creek State Park.
We also checked out Coon Creek COE campground and Eagle Creek State Recreation Area. For big rigs and the ‘it’ factor we’d stick with Lithia Springs or Wolf Creek State Park based on this day’s exploration.

Be assured that wherever you drive in this area of central Illinois in August, your view will often be nothing but flat highway, cornfields and telephone poles for as far as the eye can see!

Hugs, C

A Day at Lithia Springs

***Be sure to look at older posts. Since we’ve only had intermittent internet access we’ve had to publish several posts all at once!***
On Tuesday, Aug 11, it was to be an ‘eat and sleep’ day, no big plans, just take it easy and stay around the campground. Ken’s health seems to hold up much better if we plan a down day about every third day.
After a very late breakfast we decided to drive to the Lake Shelbyville tourist center to pick up a map of the area and check if there was internet access nearby. Ken was expecting an important email regarding the Panther trip to Penn State.

Here’s the current tourist center.

It has a butterfly garden/greenhouse….Although, it seemed to have a lot more caterpillars than butterflies on our visit.
We talked to the volunteer hosts at the tourist center who like most are fulltime RVers. They said that the building will be torn down and replaced in the next year as part of the Obama stimulus package. They suggested we go across the dam to Shelbyville to their tourist center where we would be able to get wifi.
We were able to get wifi. I could get my emails and check several key websites but Ken’s email would not come up. This clinched it for him. He has continually had problems with his ‘excite’ email and its downtime or slow response time. When he gets home he’s going to move to Yahoo. I’m very happy with Google gmail but Ken has a point that it would probably be good for us to be using 2 different services. You’ll know its changed when you see that he’s change the contact info on top of this site.
One of our favorite past times is to drive around in little towns and check out their quaint little streets and houses.
Ken took notice of this corner in particular…

Trevor, like most football players on defense would probably like to live on the corner of 3rd and Long!!

When we got back to the campground we took the dogs for a walk down a nearby path that lead to the lake.

As it happens those are not the only little white tails we saw that evening.

We also happened upon this mama and her two fawns.
It’s always nice to come back to full hookups in the RV and nice long hot showers. Although the day was warm it was a cool evening so we shut down the AC’s, opened windows, which is our favorite way to sleep when in the parks.

Hugs, C

EIU Panther Football Media Day

We started out August with both Kyle and Trevor coming home the weekend of Aug 1-2. This will be our last family weekend in Quincy for a long time since Trevor then went back to start football practice and won’t have another free weekend until after the season.

Trevor left on Tuesday, the 4th and so did we. We headed back down to Carlinville and Beaver Dam State Park. Ken had another ‘Dad Do’ list from Kyle which included adding a water spicket on the east side of his house and putting a spotlight over the back yard as well as a lot of other little handyman tasks. Meantime I found plenty to keep me busy including mowing Kyle’s backyard with his non-motorized rotary mower…wow…what a work out!!

We left Beaver Dam State Park on Sunday, Aug 9th and moved to Lithia Springs COE Campground on Lake Shelbyville. It has full hookup sites and since it is Corp of Engineers we can get these sites for $12 a night with Ken’s GoldenAccess Passport. Lithia Springs was one of the first campsites we’d visited back in 2007 after we bought the motorhome. That was when we experienced our record low in the motorhome of 19 degrees. We were impressed at that time and decided we wanted to try it in nicer weather.

We had a phone conference with our Vanguard Financial Planner on Monday morning so we headed in to Charleston since we knew that EIU has wireless internet access at all of the university parking lots. So, we did our morning meeting sitting in the stadium parking lot.
The other reason we wanted to spend Monday in Charleston was to see the 2009 EIU Panthers in uniform for the first time. It was Panther Media Day which meant it was time for team pictures, interviews with local media and autographs for the fans.

After our phone conference with Vanguard, we sent Trev a text message to let him know we had arrived. He was able to get a pass from the team lunchroom for he and his roommates, Chris and Kevin, so we could take them to get some ‘real’ food at Lincoln Garden Restaurant.

Then it was time to get the boys back for the media event. It was nice to be able to attend and see the guys doing interviews and autographs. It also gave us a chance to get a few photos in as well.

This is the 2009 Seniors with Coach Spoo.

Trevor’s here in the center with the defensive unit and their coaches.

Kids lined up to get autographs

Trevor and his roommates Kevin and Chris.

This is the one time of the year that Sox and Ditka can take the field.

Ken and I even got a few minutes on the field as well.
We said our farewells to the guys and headed the 30 miles back to Lithia Springs. Our intent is to spend a few quiet days simply enjoying the area. Not sure when we’ll get to post blogs though since wireless access is pretty hard to come by around here.

Hugs, C

Monday, August 3, 2009

Quinsippi Island

Recently we had heard that a group of people had volunteered to "fix-up" the cabins on Quinsippi Island. Quinsippi Island is part of the Quincy Park District and in the late sixties and early seventies was developed to be a tourist attraction. Quincy is only 17 miles north of Hannibal MO and all the Mark Twain attractions. The city and park district thought it would try to lore people north to Quincy with a sky ride from the river front to the island, a marina, log cabin village, steam locomotive, and if I remember correctly it also had a petting zoo.
It did not happen. They built it and they did not come. But Quinsippi Island remains.

Now as then, to get to the island by car you must cross this one lane bridge.
It is a challenge for the boaters after a long day on the hot river.

Just before the bridge there is the home of the Great River Sky Club.
They put on weekly shows. It has been years since I have seen a show. At that time it was fun show with lots of trick skiing and acrobatic moves.

Also, there is an antique car collection in one of the buildings before the bridge. At one time they asked my father if he would put his 1931 Chevrolet car in the car exhibit, but he declined.

Now the primary purpose of the island is access to the two marinas. This is the lesser of the two as the main marina is a closed marina with limited access.

The island is also home of this plague in remembrance of the Potawatomi Indians that crossed the river here while on the way to a reservation.

The Mormon also crossed the river here while on their way west.

Next to the plague is this sign for Adams Landing. It is a collection of log buildings that were moved to the island as part of the effort to build up Quinsippi Island.

It is a pretty area and is a special place for Cindy and me.

There is a trail to the river.

It is about 200 yards long winding through a wooded area, then a brushy area before opening on to the river.

Looking north you see the railroad bridge...and south..

You see Quincy's river front and bridges.

Meanwhile, back at the cabins ....

It's Tony Orlando and Farrah Fawcett!

No it's Ken and Cindy. We were married in front of the Lord's Cabin in 1981!

The Lord's Cabin is still there and looking good! It will always hold a special place in my heart!

With love KP!