Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pics from Route 66 – Aug 14, Atlanta IL

After reading Laurie’s post on why she blogs, I realized that my reasons were very similar to hers, and kicked myself back in to getting back to posting even if we aren’t on the road right now.

We will soon be at the Escapade meeting face-to-face for the first time many wonderful blogging RVers that we would not know expect for the RV blogging community.  This ‘virtual family’ is just one more of the really cool parts of the RV lifestyle that have me hooked.

And so…I get back to blogging after a 3 week break….

One of the really wonderful parts of no longer working is being able to spend more time with family members.

To that end, I travelled with three of my Frericks sister-in-laws to Atlanta, IL, a historic little town on Old Route 66, that is home to my sister-in-law, Ann.




You can’t help but smile back at the community’s eye-catching water tower.



Although our true objective was to act as the Quincy Frericks family representatives at a baby shower,  even after a brunch time stop at Springfield, IL Bob Evans, we had a little time to explore downtown Atlanta before heading to the party.

Here are my fellow travelers, Kenny’s sisters Mary, Lois and Kay in front of Atlanta’s 100 year old public library.




One of the huge classic ‘muffler men’, this one known as the “Bunyon Giant” has had its place in the Atlanta Route 66 historic site since 2003.  It actually stood on the original route 66 in nearby Cicero, IL for more than 40 years in front of the Bunyon Hot Dog stand.






The J. H. Hawes Grain Elevator  in Atlanta is the oldest wooden grain elevator in Illinois, built in 1904 and today a museum.





Of course, we weren’t in Atlanta for sightseeing but for a baby shower, so here’s a few shots from that event…




Niece, Tonya, donned a ‘retro’ look, wearing a dress that Mama Ann had made some 40 years earlier.









Rather than play games, we did a craft as the activity at the shower, with each of us decorating a ‘onesie’  for Mark and Mindy’s soon-to-be little baby boy Knuffman.

Here, Lydia, Harper and Sophie work on their creations for their new cousin, while Mindy and Mama’s Susan and Lisa supervise.



All-in-all, I’d say everyone had quite the ‘ducky’ day!!


Hugs, C

Monday, August 9, 2010

So Much on a Saturday

Saturday turned out to be an adventure packed day.

It was a wonderfully cool morning so we started with coffee under the awning followed by a breakfast of oatmeal and toast outside.  Unless it’s really hot, and especially when we don’t have full hookups, we prefer cooking, eating and cleaning up outdoors. 

Late morning, after Ken mapped out a general trip route, we headed out for one of our exploration days.  We’ve always envisioned that, if we were on the road extended or full-time, we would park and then have several days like this where we headed out to explore the sites in a 50 mile radius of the rig.  Based on this day, I think we’ll need to be a bit less ambitious on what we pack in to one day!

First off, we headed to Rochester where Trevor had a place he’s considering renting when he starts his new job in Springfield this fall.  I was not thrilled with the idea that he’d be driving from Rochester to the center of Springfield every day but, once we actually drove to this location, we were quite happy with it.  I’m really surprised it is a Rochester address since it is just off of I-55 on the east side of Springfield at the Hwy 29 exit.  It’s a carriage house where the owner is building an apartment on the second floor so everything will be brand new including a washer and dryer.  After seeing  the location and exterior, we are now hoping this works out for him.

We had also located a state park, Sangchris Lake, that had a Rochester address ,so, considering this might be a good place for us to park when visiting Trevor,  we made that our next stop.  It felt like we really had to do quite a bit of driving to get to this park.  The lake was very nice and there were sites right along the shore but not many were both 50 amp and level so we’d be limited, at least during really hot or cold weather,  on which sites worked for us in this campground.  We are glad we made the trip though since now we have a good idea of what it takes to get here and what sites we might consider, and also,  because there are two campgrounds and we’d definitely do the Hickory Campground over the Deer Run Campground having checked both out. 

When we left Sangchris Lake we drove south to the little village of Dorchester, IL.  Carrie, one of the ladies we had lunch with on Friday had mentioned that they were having their 50th Annual Dorchester Homecoming and were famous for their fish fry.  Since it was already 3pm, we decided that the fish would make a great late lunch.


Even though we arrived at probably the least crowded part of the weekend festivities, in the middle of a very hot Saturday afternoon, there were still lots of activities going on.

There was a 16-inch co-ed softball tournament in full swing.







This is small town softball at its’ finest with many of the participants having their team names shown with duck tape on their backs and many of the young ladies built like they could put the guys to shame with that bat in hand.    






We’ve observed, over the years, that there seems to be a lot of really athletic girls in these small towns that often get missed by college recruiters who prefer working the big cities where they don’t have to travel so far to see lots of talent.

One thing was for sure, there was no rule against beer in the dug out on this hot afternoon!






Behind the baseball field they had a horseshoe tournament in progress where we saw this guy lay in 2 back-to-back ringers as we walked by.




There were your usual carnival games, beer tents and kids activity areas. 


Lots of people were carrying in chairs and settling in for the day.  There was a parade in an hour or two so we decided we’d better skedaddle before we ended up having problems getting out of town. 

With the great food and atmosphere we will definitely suggest that Kyle, Jenni and their friends make an effort to drop by to enjoy this event next year.  In fact, just might be a good weekend for us to work in to our travel schedule!

We were now on the last leg of the route we planned for the day and headed along more back roads to check out some of the local lakes.  We were actually surprised by the size of Lake Gillespie.  We thought we’d get a picture of this kid skiing on the lake, but,  it turned out, he was a newbie.


We had  fun watching his attempts but based on what we were seeing figured it wasn’t going to be any time soon that we saw him up on those things, so we continued on our journey. 

We then found our way to Lake Catatoga.  This turns out to be a small lake with many small fingers, allowing for maximum amount of lake frontage on minimum acreage.  It’s a private community of shoreline lots with some common areas.  We’ve observed two variations of these kinds of developments in the past.  Either they are very upscale with expensive homes with the community feeling very exclusive to the point of smugness.  On the other end of the spectrum we’ve seen developments with few restrictions that have been turned in to dumps.  Lake Catatoga seems to be nicely in the middle.   There were no trashy trailers or overgrown lots.  While we saw a few higher end homes, there were also some really quaint little cottages.  There were lots and lots of decks with nice views and docks with small boats. Most of the landscaping was maintained but maybe not particularly manicured.  I think it would be a wonderful place to live if it weren’t 10 miles from any town.

By the time we were leaving Lake Catatoga it was after 5pm.  Since Kyle and Jenni had a day planned in Springfield we had offered to drop by at supper time and let the dog out of the crate for awhile.  While Ken played with Staley,  I took advantage of Kyle’s internet to post yesterday’s blog.

We’d hoped to take the dogs out on Beaver Dam Lake in the evening but both of us were pretty tired from out travels when we got back.  I’m glad though that we decided to buck it up and do it anyway since it turned out to be a very relaxing, and rather comical end to the day.

Ditka absolutely loved the boat.


He seemed to have an understanding of the water as well, sticking his snout down for a drink now and then but with no interest in getting any closer.  Although the vet said swimming would be good exercise for him, we really didn’t want to encourage him getting in at this point.  He settled in comfortable at Ken’s feet and enjoyed the ride.




Sox, on the other hand, could not figure out this calm placid water surface. 

She seemed sure she should be able to walk on water.  I found myself laughing out load just watching her antics which results in her tumbling into the lake headfirst twice.  The part that was not so funny was that  I ended up soaking wet and smelling like dog from pulling her back in and taking the brunt of the post-swim shake.






In retrospect, I pulled her in too quickly.  Next time I’ll make her swim and work at it a bit since she never did try to stop getting back out there.





The water was calm and glassy.  The heat of the day had subsided and once on the lake we had surprisingly few insects joining us.  We floated along enjoying the surroundings, watching the little kids along the shore with their fishing poles, and annoying the resident heron who periodically warned us with his prehistoric honking sounds that we were in his space.


We came off the lake at sunset and headed back up the hill to the rig.

One of my new favorite RVing days, for sure.

Hugs, C

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Disdainful Fish

On Thursday, Ken decided to take advantage of the cooler weather and spend some time on the lake here at the park.

One of the many nice things about the our Sea Eagle is how easy it is to get it to the lake with the jeep, after taking your time to get it blown up and outfitted in the shade of the motorhome. IMG_0638 






While Ken was on the lake fishing I planned to go in to town so I dropped Ken off at the dock, helped him load the boat and cast off.  He waved good-bye heading out to the open sea!



Ken characterized the days fishing as downright degrading.  He said the fish would literally follow the bait back to the boat as he reeled it in and then look up and give him a disdainful laugh.  Illinois fish can be SO arrogant!

He’s pretty sure that this heron was also chuckling as he enjoyed watching Ken from the dock.




But, Ken had to admit that the number of fish he could get  on the line really wasn’t what drew him to the lake anyway.  He skimmed along the shoreline a bit to take in the variety of greenery and wildflowers.  This quite common flowering vine is a form of hibiscus called a rose mallow and found in abundance around the park this time of the year.

After enjoying some quiet time at the Carlinville library, checking emails, posting a blog, doing online banking, I dropped by Walmart to pick up items to grill for dinner and then called Ken to tell him I was on my way back to the park.

As I pulled up to the dock he was making his way back across the lake.  Apparently the heron and the fish had filled in the geese regarding his silly fishing attempts and so they were waiting to rub in his lack of success a bit further as he pulled up to unload.


We chilled out for a bit back at the RV and then did grilled pork chops, cheesy garlic red potatoes, veggie stir fry and french bread for Jenni and Kyle for dinner.

Ken spent quite awhile outside after dark solving the problems of the world with one of the camp hosts.  When he did come in we were surprised to see that Mr. “Never Gets a Sunburn”  had some very red legs which I slathered with aloe lotion, then we both turned in for an early night.

Friday we went in to town to have lunch with Kyle, Jenni and some of the ladies from the law firm.  We met at Angus Bailey’s which is one of the 2 or 3 best places to eat in Carlinville.  They have a rather strange menu ranging from flaming greek cheese appetizers, to deep fried artichoke hearts, and southwest style chicken pitas.   The food and the company was great as usual.

After the meal Ken and I dropped by the Carlinville library.  While we could go past Kyle’s house to get on the internet, I have a ‘thing’ for small town libraries.


  For a town of 6000, Carlinville has a very nice facility, fast internet and a really large variety of magazines. 

Kyle and Jenni had us over Friday evening for spaghetti.   We ate on their huge deck, enjoying the cooler temperatures.   Afterward, the pulled out a game called ‘Apples to Apples’.  We had a great time with this game.  I think it would be great to have around anytime you are having a few couples over and want something to do that everyone can enjoy, since it doesn’t take much skill or strategy but tends to keep everyone involved and talking.

It’s now Saturday morning.  I’ve enjoyed a full 2 hours sitting out under the awning reading and working on my laptop. Temperatures are in the high sixties.  Fellow campers are out with their dogs and coffee cups. As usual, our dogs are icebreakers and several people stop to talk, asking about them.  Ken is in the chair beside me working on a ‘Hard’ Sudoku.  I’m impressed but will stick with  my laptop!!  We’re just about through our second pot of coffee which is a signal that its about time to get breakfast started.

As is the motto of our new-found friends, Ed and Marilyn,  LIG  -- life is good!! And to add the addendum from our other new-found friends, Doug and Joann – RVLIB – RV life is better!!

Hugs, C

Friday, August 6, 2010

Carlinville in the Heat!

On Monday, August 2nd, we moved from Fox Ridge State Park to Beaver Dam State Park.  Beaver Dam is less than 10 minutes from Carlinville and is the perfect location for us to visit Kyle and Jenni.

We chose site 5 which is 50 amp, first-come-first-serve.  50 amp was important since temps were expected to reach 100 degrees and the two air conditioners would be needed and first-come-first-serve was important since we had no idea how long we would stay and didn’t want to run in to having our site reserved later in the week.


Site 5 has lots of open grassy area for the dogs.

Kyle plays tennis on Monday evenings so we picked up Jenni and went to Ryan’s Pub for dinner.  Ryan’s is a comfortable family tavern atmosphere with good reasonably priced food.  Jenni had a Reuben sandwich.  Ken and I had the $.6.50 fried chicken dinner special, with mashed potatoes and green beans.  Everything was quite good as usual.

When back at the house, Ken checked out a couple of handyman jobs that Kyle had on the list.  They were having problems with water getting on the floor during showers and also were frustrated with the house key situation with multiple keys needed for multiple doors. 

On Tuesday, Ken and I went back in to the house late morning.  He started work on this projects while I caught up on emails and other online work that had not gotten attention since we still aren’t carrying an air card.

At noon, Jenni and I left for Springfield.  We were meeting her Mom and Maria, her brother Josh’s girlfriend, for lunch at Panera.  We were also meeting Karen and her mother-in-law.  Karen and her husband recently moved to Carlinville from New Jersey.  As it turns out her mother-in-law is the water aerobics teacher for my sisters at the YMCA and we were able to put the couples in contact. It seems to have turned out to be a great fit and they’ve enjoyed several outings together already.  Moving from New Jersey to Carlinville is definitely a bit of a culture shock so Karen seems very pleased that they’ve found another couple to hang out with.

After lunch we were off to David’s Bridal for Jenni’s bridal gown alterations fitting.  She’s been working out a lot and the dress which fit perfectly a few months ago now needs to be taken in!  They also have to take a lot off of the length.  Because of the number of layers and the train, Jenni endured 2+ hours of standing while all the lengths were pinned and the bustles worked out.


As it turns out their will be 13 loops in the bustle!  Her Mom will have to come back with her next month to ‘train’ on how to do the bustle on the wedding day.  I’m sorry I will be on the road at that time because it will really be more than a one-person effort that day and it would be good for Donna to have someone else ‘trained’ with her. 

Before we left Springfield, Jenni and I dropped by Babies R Us for a baby shower gift.  Jenni was excited to have been invited to the first ‘girl event’ on Kyle’s side but will not be able to make the trip for the shower.  That didn’t stop us from getting in a quick jaunt of baby shopping where Mom Mindy is registered.  Jenni is in charge of the wrapping since she is the crafty one of the two of us!  It’s so nice to have another girl in the family to do this stuff with!

When we arrived back in Carlinville, Ken was already finished with his handyman projects and back at the motorhome.  Kyle and Jenni had items at home for a meal of brats, sweet corn and chips so we packed up those items and headed out to the rig to cook out.  Since it had been over 100 degrees during the day, we cooked outside but ate inside.

Since it was too hot to enjoy the outdoors, the kids brought some movies.  We watched ‘Taken’.  If you haven’t seen this movie, we’d highly recommend it, with a thumbs up from all 4 of us.

Wednesday was another really hot day so after treating ourselves to breakfast at the park restaurant, Ken and I mostly stayed in the motorhome reading, working on budget, etc. with a brief jaunt in to town to publish a blog and pick up a few Walmart supplies. 

Ken did get these pictures of a prairie wildflower he found intriguing.  He had to come back to the motorhome and figure out what it was. Although this thing is huge, its actually a member of the daisy family.  It’s called prairie dock.


Its stalks rose to almost 10 feet high allowing the flowers to tower above the rest of the prairie foliage with no blocks of the hot summer sun.  This apparently is a plant dating back to the stone ages!


The base of this plant had huge leaves. The leaves are tough and like sandpaper which makes them unappetizing for rabbits and other small rodents, which are plentiful in the area.

We met Jenni and Kyle for dinner at the local Carlinville Mexican restaurant, Sol De Mexico.  Let’s leave it that Ken and I were not  thrilled with this restaurant, although the kids said it was usually pretty good.  I guess I’m just a bit tired of all Midwest Mexican restaurants seeming to have the same tastes, the same menus, same atmosphere.  I can’t wait to get back out to the Southwest this winter as Ken and I love the Mexican food we had in New Mexico, especially the green sauces that you don’t see much of around here.

Well, tomorrow, Thursday, is suppose to be cooler so hopefully we’ll get to enjoy the outdoors more.

Hugs, C

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back on the Road

There had been too much remodeling and sitting in Quincy in July.  Ken and I were both ready to get on the road awhile.

Since Trevor’s girlfriend Leah needed to move between houses in Charleston the last weekend in July, we decided this would be a good excuse to make a trip back over to the Eastern side of Illinois to one of the campgrounds we consider ‘home’, Fox Ridge State Park.

After a long day of moving that Friday, we celebrated moving the girls in to their new house with a Lasagna dinner and party.  This was my first opportunity to meet Leah’s mom, Amy, and we had a really enjoyable evening together.  Ken said that it was obvious I had enjoyed the company AND the wine since he was able to catch me napping the next afternoon which is something I don’t usually do!



He took this picture to prove that I am actually able to sleep during daylight hours and, since I didn’t even flinch when the flash went off,  he considers it further proof that I had a really good time the night before!


Ditka seemed particularly happy to be on the road again and although he seemed to tire out quicker than usual, was always anxious to be on the go.  His appetite has returned and he was happy to stand guard over the grill for Ken considering the great smells it was sending his way.  You can see from the picture that while his fur is starting to grow back, he still isn’t ready to put weight on his leg.  Ken is doing a wonderful job of working on the massage, manipulation and slow rehab with Ditka so I’m really optimistic we’ll see him use that leg again in months to come.


As usual, there was no lack of Trev’s friends to help Ken get rid of his grilling creations.  In this picture, Trev and Leah were joined by Chris and his girlfriend, Courtney, for grilled pepper cheese chicken breasts, cheesy garlic red potatoes and sautéed asparagus….no leftovers!!


Because we were staying 5 nights in an electric-only site, we set up to do most of our water use, including dishwashing outdoors.  Although it was a bit warm all weekend, so long as we kept a fan blowing it made it comfortable to be outside and the breeze from the fan helped keep the flies down.


After late breakfast on Sunday, we drove in to Greenup to show Leah and Trevor the covered bridge and drop by the Cameo Winery to pick up a bottle of wine for Leah’s mom to sample.  We topped off the outing with a visit to Greenup’s old fashioned ice cream shop. 

Leah had to head back to Palos Park to work Sunday evening so Trev decided to stay with us and get some CPA study in while Ken and I enjoyed a long walk with the dogs and some reading time on the patio.

After a big breakfast, Trev headed back to Quincy on Monday morning and Ken and I packed up to move on to our next stop, a visit to Kyle and Jenni in Carlinville and another park we call ‘home’, Beaver Dam State Park.

Hugs, C

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two Brian’s at Siloam (Again only Different)


Although she wasn’t going to overnight with me, Cindy, joined me on Thursday afternoon, July 22nd, as I travelled to Siloam Springs State Park. We had not been to this park for two years so it was nice to see that the wild life was as plentiful as ever.

Cindy, in the car, had to go slow to let wild turkeys clear the road and this young deer didn’t seem particularly concerned about having a few humans sharing the park with her. The operative word here is FEW. This park, like many other Illinois State Parks, appears to have a lot fewer campers this season. While this makes it nice and quiet for those of us enjoying the parks, its a bit worrisome when we consider where the state is looking to make future cuts with its current budget woes.

Cindy’s ulterior motive in making the 30 mile trip from our house to help set up at the campground was the promise of the evening’s dinner out at Mike’s Place in the small nearby town of Liberty, IL. (Actually she did not trust me to park the RV without hitting a tree as I have hit two different trees while parking in this park). We’ve yet to have a bad meal at Mike’s or a meal small enough that we were able to also handle one of his awesome homemade desserts at the end. I had homemade ham and beans and cornbread. We’ve still not made it to Mike’s on Sunday when he has some really interesting entrees such as duck and quail on the menu….still on the ‘futures’ list.

After Cindy left, Thursday evening and Friday morning I spent my time doing small fix-its and maintenance around the RV. You know the small things that seem to never get fixed or taken care of, like lubricating the steps or loosening up the push button on the shower head, that type of stuff. I also got the boat out and put our new license stickers on it (an Illinois requirement) and put new string on the fishing poles to get ready for the two Brians.

I have history from a few years back of taking "Brian's" to Sil0am for a night of camping and fishing. (see 2008 and 2007). One Brian was my nieces’ son and the other was the son of the best man and matron of honor in our wedding. This trip my nieces’ son, Brian, came to Siloam but the other original Brian is from Atlanta and could not make it to Siloam. So, this year the second Brian is a friend of the other Brian. Confused? Anyway I had two Brians with me again but they were not the same two Brians.

The two Brians got to Siloam shortly after lunch on Friday and could not wait to get out on the lake in the boat.


They did not catch any fish but had a good time paddling around the lake.


Later, after everyone was hot and tired, we went back to the campsite for our traditional foil dinners. (Yes, Brian E. I did burn it!) While we were finishing dinner Jim and James stopped by to check on Brian and to sit and chat awhile.


It was extremely hot that day so there was a lot of refreshing going on while we discussed the days events and planned our day for tomorrow.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Ladies Night!

I’ve not posted since July 16th so it’s time I did some quick catch-up in the next few posts!!

First, for all of you wonderful readers so concerned about Ditka, he is now ‘released’ for rehab and is moving around well.  Well, that is so long as you don’t try to get him to use his left hind leg.  We are slowly trying to get him to use that leg and doing the massage and manipulation we were shown to insure it retains flexibility.  The best we can get so far are a few slight taps of the paw on the ground when he forgets himself. 

The second half of July was filled with family activities starting with Jenni’s bachelorette party.  Jenni’s Mom and I joined the bridesmaids in St. Louis at Laclede’s Landing.  This is a great place for such an event since there are lots of fun places to celebrate along this historic section of St. Louis with no need to drive.   The girls were staying in a hotel close by as well.

We started the evening off at Morgan’s Brewery with a nice dinner together.

IMG_0582 I’m thrilled that my new daughter, Jenni, and my niece, Erin, seem to be hitting it off so well.  I’m so very lucky to have them both!  And aren’t they just gorgeous!


Here’s Jennie with her Mom, Donna, at dinner.  Jenni had the ‘bride-to-be’ pink satin banner while the rest of us had buttons indicating our role in the event.  As you see, Donna, had two…one as ‘Mother of the Bride’ and one as ‘Matron of Honor’.

We then moved on to the ‘Big Bang’ Piano Bar.  I highly recommend this place if you are looking for a really fun evening of entertainment. 


Katie had done a great job of planning and had front row seats reserved. 




The girls made sure this hunky waiter dropped by often to offer Jenni a variety of the shot specials for the evening.



The piano players took requests (those with the biggest tips getting the most attention of course!) and so here we have Erin dragging Jenni to the stage for a sing-a-long during a special request for the ‘bride to be’.


‘Big Bang’ is a great place to spend the evening.  If you have a party, reserve ahead and get there early the cover is not too steep.  There were groups of all ages having a great time and surprisingly about a dozen or so tables of  bachelor or bachelorette parties.

IMG_0600 While it was really nice that the girls invited the ‘Moms’ to join them, we really didn’t want to cramp their style with old ladies following them around all night and so Donna and I planned to do the drive back to Quincy that same night. As designated driver I was a good girl and stuck to the free DD coca-colas all night for that reason.  Since Jenni’s parents run a Quincy bar, the Heartland Saloon, and do the nightly closings, we Mom’s headed back to Quincy about 10:30 pm leaving the girls to many more hours of frolicking.

It was nice to have Donna along for the late night drive back to Quincy and it gave us talk time just the two of us that we might not get otherwise.

I know they had a great time although it sounds like most slept in the better part of Sunday as a result.

Thanks, girls, for giving Jenni such a wonderful party.  It’s really nice to see what a wonderful group of friends she has.

Hugs, C