Thursday, December 8, 2011

Snow and Catching Up



It snowed here two days ago!  We had a good snow during the day then a little more overnight.  The ground was not froze so most of the snow melted as it landed but enough came down to cover the ground about an inch deep!  This picture is looking out the back door onto the golf course. 

The snow really makes it feel like winter.  Just before Thanksgiving I winterized the RV and  just recently had it serviced.  Before parking it on blocks I filled the fuel and propane tanks in preparations for winter.  We had talked about going south for the winter after Christmas but we need to be back here in February for a baby shower that Cindy and the daughter in laws are hosting.   So I will be spending the winter at home while Cindy works.  We have a routine now … I drive her to St Louis airport on Sunday evenings and pick her up on Thursday evenings.  It is a two hour drive that I have come to enjoy.  I purchased some college courses that I listen to on the road.  They are put out by Great Courses and are usually very good.  They can be expensive so I only buy them when they have their 70% off sales.

Now to catch up!

Even though I complained about the leaves in the last post, I really enjoy the fall.  Especially sports playoffs.  We went to High School soccer play offs  with Kyle and Jenni.  This game was of special interest to Kyle as it was his new home town playing his old High school.  Both he and I have coached soccer.  I coached for 14 years, mostly younger kids and when he coaches it is usually kids that are in high school or just before high school.  He knows the game better and is the better coach, I just have fun teaching the little kids the basics.  


Soccer play offs in the Midwest!  As you can see this is definitely farm country!  Kyle’s alma mater won this game and then went on to win the state championship!

I also called a buddy and took him to see one of the best high school football games I’ve seen since Trevor was playing.  Neither of us had a connection to the teams but I had heard that the quarterback on one team was really good and that the other team had a really good running back.   They did not disappoint! Both the quarterback and running back put on a show with the game going to overtime.  The winning score came on a pass from the quarterback in a back and forth game.  Very enjoyable game … too bad someone had to lose!

As some of you know our youngest son bought a house in Palos Heights.  The weekend after the closing we drove the RV to Joliet to help move and set things up.  Cindy job was to take care of our grandson while Leah was a work and Trevor and I worked on the house.    


It was King’s job to keep an eye on the neighborhood and let us know what was going on!

After working on the washer and dryer and doing some other small jobs outside it was time to set up the TV and the shelving around it.  Leah did a good job picking out the shelves and designing how it look when done. 


One shelf up and now for the TV.


After moving the wiring into boxes behind the TV we finally hung the TV and began putting up the bottom shelf.


During one of our breaks, Cindy snapped this picture of the happy new home owners.


The highlight of the day came when everyone got to see Jameson roll over for the first time!  Cindy, Auntie Em, and Leah all recorded the feat!

We were able to get a lot done on Friday night and Saturday.  Sunday morning we had breakfast with Leah’s family and returned to the  house to finish up and pack up tools.  That afternoon I took Cindy to O'Hare to fly back to work and I returned to the RV to walk the dogs and relax.

Monday morning I drove from Joliet to Carlinville to see Kyle and fix a leaking toilet.  When in Carlinville we stay a Beaver Dam State Park. It is a very popular park with the locals so I was pleasantly surprised that there was only three campers in the whole park!


The weather was in the 50’s and 60’s with partial sunshine…beautiful days! 


The lake at Beaver Dam.  


After returning home, I called a tree trimmer to take care of the leaf problem that I mentioned in the last blog!


No actually I called him to take care of some storm damage that was too high up for me.  So while he was there I had him top some trees that were close to the house.


The tree trimmers finished up on Wednesday before Thanksgiving just before we celebrated our Thanksgiving.  All the kids had their plans for Thanksgiving day so we had a unthanks giving meal with the kids the night before.  No turkey, no dressing, none of that, they would get all of that on Thursday.  We had pot roast mashed potato carrots and fried apples with biscuits.  Also Cindy fixed the most unusual food I’d ever heard of.   


Chocolate covered bacon!!!!  It was good!!!!  But you could only eat one.  Fat on a stick with chocolate and nuts, mmmm!


After Thanksgiving and before they returned to their home on Sunday they helped start the Christmas decorations.


Sox and Santa on the stairs.




During the following week I finished the decorations inside and we are ready for winter and Christmas!


PS: Jim our  plant experiment did not work. We kept the pots small to make them easy to move but the plants need bigger pots. Then when we moved I put the plants in the back of the Jeep and the ride there shook the peppers and tomatoes off the vine.

PS: Dee we now have a Culvers in town! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Love it … Hate it

You got to love the fall!  The grass lands are subtle shades of purple and beige, the shrubs are bright reds, the trees are blazing yellows, oranges mixed with greens and browns all under brilliantly clear blue sky. You got to love it! 

But the leaves won’t stay on the trees! What a waste of time and energy … raking leaves … argh!!!  Hate it!  We have a small lot but have 18 trees or big shrubs that all drop their leaves.  Do they drop their leave at the same time? Oh no that would be too easy!  The decorative trees are done, the hard maples half done, soft maple will go on for months, oaks won’t get good start till December, Mulberry trees are just starting now…. If the leaves would just stay on the trees!!!   

Don’t get me wrong, I planted most of the trees in the yard and love them all but one.  Love the trees, I could be a tree hugger if the need arose!  But the leaves!  Halloween day I raked a small area in the front yard and had leaves piled head high under one tree!  Today I ran the mulcher over the yard several times.  Now more leaves are falling.  Where is that 50 mph wind when you need it!

Where is the best fall color?

I seen the fall colors in Colorado, Ozarks, Upstate New York and all along the Mississippi River, it is all good! But the best I’ve seen was in the north east corner of Alabama in the Desoto State Park and Little River Canyon area.  The water falls, rocks, tree colors just gorgeous!  I looked for pictures because I took a lot, but can not find them.   If you search “Desoto” in top left corner of the blog you can see several pictures.  These pictures  are pre Picasa so are un touched!  The amazing thing about the fall colors was that the locals that we talked too all said that it was not a good year because it had been too dry and color was sometimes brighter and  the waterfalls were not running as strong as usual!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Detroit …. Actually Novi and Farmington Hills Area

A typical day here is up at six. While Cindy gets ready I make coffee, then a short walk with the dogs, and then fix a couple eggs for Cindy’s breakfast.  We usually leave the RV around seven. It takes twenty five to thirty minutes to get to her place of work depending on traffic.  So I am usually back at the RV by eight or eight fifteen.  We found a way to get to her office avoiding the Interstate using city streets. It is a lot less stressful and no traffic jams.

After I get back to the RV is when I cleanup,  fix my breakfast, watch the news I recorded, and take the dogs for a longer walk. By then it is ten o’clock or so and time for a nap.  Ah the life of a kept man!  After my nap it is time to eat again.  Most days I will eat leftovers at the RV but occasionally I will run to town to eat with Cindy.  She found a small Thai restaurant that has great food and good service, so it has become a favorite lunch stop.

In the afternoon it’s another walk with the dogs and chores of some kind or other before leaving to pick up Cindy.  About half the nights we eat at the RV the other half we eat out somewhere. That’s the fun part of the day. We had never been to a Red Robin so we had to check them out.  But the best was one night when we made a wrong turn and ended up across the street from a strip mall.  Cindy can spot a restaurant any where and she spotted one in that strip mall, and it was a good one.  It was an Italian restaurant called Maisanos (I am learning…you just witnessed my first link!).   It is a small nicely decorated family restaurant with the owner hanging around a small bar greeting people as they came and went.   Cindy is much better at choosing wines and again she picked a good one.  With the wine we had our appetizers of soup and then our meal.  This restaurant is known for the sauces they use on the entrees but the soups were excellent also.  One of the best meals we have ever had at any price.

On Friday night, we went to a play at the local playhouse.  The Farmington Players (#2 link…. not a virgin anymore!) presented To Kill A Mockingbird.  The young girl that played “Scout” the daughter of the stories hero was spell binding, she was that good.  The playhouse is in a converted barn so it has a unique appearance from the outside.  The stage and seating were nicely arranged with comfortable seating and good acoustics.  It was a nice evening.

Cindy had heard from the people she worked with that there was a minor league hockey team in the area and that they were fun to watch.  So on Saturday evening we watched our first hockey game.  The Plymouth Whalers play at Compuware Arena in Plymouth MI which is only 10 to 12 miles from the RV park.

Cool Logo!

It was Pink Out! night at the hockey game and the home team were wearing pink and black jerseys and the crowd was encouraged to wear pink.  At the entrance to the arena anyone who wanted could get their hair painted pink … Cindy said she would do it if I would and I politely used the excuse that we were going out to eat afterwards. 



The opposing team had a keeper with the name of Hope and wore the number one.  So we teased that they had only one Hope and later when he was substituted out we teased that now they had no hope!  It was a great game, the Whalers took an early 3-0 lead in the first part of the game and had a lot more shots on goal.  But the visiting team came out with a more determined attack and out shot the home team sending the game to overtime, then eventually winning the game.   An exciting game!  Now Cindy wants to go to a pro game!  Before we do that we will need to figure out that blue line .. we determined that it had something to do with offside but not exactly.  Good times!!

Next week will be a short week as Cindy will work while I drive and we head to Eastern Illinois for Football on their homecoming weekend!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicago, Quincy, Kankakee, and Detroit


After our babysitting weekend I had planned to go to Carlinville to work on my son Kyle's house.  However, his wife Jenni was sick with a sinus infection so I told them I would do it at a later date.  So now I had three unplanned days.  Well if your me and you have unscheduled time what to do what to do?  I did my favorite thing not much.

After driving back to Quincy, I cleaned and washed the RV.  That took all of Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I did a little yard work and played cards with a buddy of mine. Thursday did laundry and did some repacking of the RV before heading to St. Louis to pick up Cindy.

Friday was Cindy’s hair and nails day and then a visit with her sister.  Me it was some errands and another card game.

Saturday we drove to Kankakee River State Park for the night.  We called Trevor and Leah and they met us in Frankfort for dinner at  a nice Italian restaurant called Francesca’s.  The food was excellent! Leah and Trevor had been there before so Leah ordered some of their really good appetizers with some risotto to share.  We had wine with dinner then some of us had a cappuccino for dessert. 

Sunday morning we continued our drive to Detroit area.  We arrived early enough to explore a different route from the RV park to Cindy’s place of work.  The GPS was taking us onto the interstate for a few mile before exiting again.  The problem with this route was that there were two lanes in the on ramp joining three lanes on the interstate so it was five lanes quickly reduced to three lanes.  Every morning this intersection was a mess.  We found two other ways that were both faster and much less stressful than the interstate.  So it was well worth the time it took to find these routes and once again you can not always trust the GPS.

So Monday morning I took Cindy to work and got back in time for these early morning pictures.




Monday, October 3, 2011

A Week End With Jameson

When we last saw our hero I was dropping her off at the St Louis Airport on Monday morning with plans to pick her up at O'Hare in Chicago on Thursday evening. So on Wednesday I drove the RV to Joliet and Leisure Lake Membership Resort.


Our campsite and view out the front window. Leisure Lake is a membership campground but they keep a number of sites open for short term stays. It is a nice park and is generally clean and well maintained but can get crowded and slightly rowdy on the major holiday weekends. Otherwise it is a nice place to stay.

After picking up Cindy we went to Portillo’s for dinner. We really enjoy their Italian Beef Sandwich and Chocolate cake. They are located all around the Chicago area and I have not seen them anywhere else. Our daughter in law Leah took us to one on one of our first visits to the area and it has become a favorite for a quick and good meal.

Friday morning we picked up Jameson at Trevor and Leah’s. They were going with another couple to see friends of theirs that had move to Minnesota to coach football. So we had the honor of taking care of Jameson Friday, Saturday, and most of Sunday.


Jameson is such an easy baby to care for … We and the kids are very blessed to have such an easy going baby!!


While Cindy worked via phone and pc, Jameson and I watched college football, drank coffee and studied the maps looking for those elusive shortcuts. Cindy did eventually get me out of the chair and we took Jameson and the dogs for a walk around the lake. But first we had to figure out how to assemble the stroller. Here we go showing our age we can’t even figure out how to use a stroller! We eventually got it and had a nice walk that we repeated a number of times over the weekend.


Eventually Cindy was able to pry Jameson away from me for a turn with the baby!

Sunday afternoon I delivered Cindy back to O’Hare before dropping Jameson off at Trevor and Leah’s. I was not keen on the idea of driving from the airport to their house with Jameson alone in the backseat. I was worried about him getting upset or needing attention during the 45 minute drive, but again he was calm and slept most of the way.

So ends a happy weekend with the grandbaby!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Visit From Good Friends

After the Christening, Cindy returned to work in Farmington Hills and on Monday I drove home to Quincy for a week of appointments. I had eye and doctor appointments and the dogs had a grooming appointment . Then on Thursday evening I drove to St. Louis to pick up Cindy. On Friday we got our chores done in anticipation of visits from our son and daughter-in-law Kyle and Jenni, and from our good friends Jim and Dee.

Kyle and Jenni were in town to participate in a fund raiser sponsored by Jenni’s parents and to see Jenni’s brothers. Jim and Dee came to see us since we were not going to be able to see them later in the year. We had both planned to meet at “camping with Lisa” in October but for both of us it was no longer possible. Camping with Lisa is a blast, I am going to miss seeing everyone there. Lisa and Tony are great hosts and even better people.

Jim and Dee arrived late morning on Saturday. After chatting over home made chicken and wild rice soup we took Jim and Dee for a tour of Quincy. Being history buffs they seemed to really enjoyed visiting the site of one of the Lincoln Douglas Debates.


Another highlight for Dee was a tour of the golf course. Out our backdoor is a public golf course and Dee had never been on a golf course before. We walked two holes showing her the tees, fairways, rough, and greens. She got the biggest kick out of the ball washer. You gotta know Dee!


To end the day we played a game of hand and foot, where Dee and I allowed Cindy and Jim to slaughter us. Here is a picture of Jim and Cindy plotting our demise!


We had a great visit and after breakfast we said goodbye to Jim and Dee and later in the day Kyle and Jenni. Then to bed early as Cindy was flying out of St. Louis on early Monday morning. Alarms set for 4:30 AM.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago, con’t … Jameson Christening

After setting up at Leisure Lake Trevor stopped by with grandbaby Jameson.


As you can see Grandma was ecstatic! Jameson changes so much between visits, he is quickly becoming a little boy!

We spent the day catching up with Trevor and spoiling Jameson!

On Saturday we went to stock up on groceries and on the way we saw the Goodyear blimp at the Joliet Airport. Besides the big event of Jameson’s Christening the area was also hosting the lesser events of a pro golf tournament and a Nascar race.


On the way to Chicago this weekend I saw the Met Life blimp struggling in the wind. It was vacillating between nose up and nose down and moving side to side. Needless to say it did not look like the comfortable floating on the air image we all have.

Sunday morning we Christened Jameson.


Then had a get together at Grandma Amy’s house.


Near the end of the day Trevor and I delivered Cindy to the airport so she could return to Farmington Hills…Of course her flight was delayed! We received a message that the flight was delayed as we were entering the departure lanes at the airport. She decided to wait it out and only had to wait a couple of hours.

I returned to the RV for the night, driving back to Quincy the next morning.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago, con’t

On Wednesday afternoon Cindy got to the RV in mid afternoon so we packed up leaving the Cincinnati area and headed for Detroit area. She had an appointment in Farmington Hills near Detroit early in the afternoon on Thursday and again Friday morning. We had planned to drive most of the way Thursday afternoon and evening and stop at a truck stop (again) driving the balance in the morning. At about dark we found a Flying J that had a large parking lot off to the side for RVs.

When your tried and hungry is when you make mistakes. At the Flying J I grabbed the wrong pump putting unleaded fuel in the diesel tank. When I realized my mistake I was sick. We spent the next several hours getting the tank pumped out and refueling with diesel. One good thing was that I realized my mistake before I started the engine, therefore the filters and fuel lines were all ok. The worst part about the whole thing was that after we were done with the RV and were parked in the Flying J, Cindy was unable to get any sleep because of the worry and the noise. One thing I learned was that Coach net emergency road side assistance only covers mechanical beak downs. Now I have Good Sam emergency road side assistance and they said the towing would have been covered.

Shortly after daylight we drove the rest of the way to Farmington Hills and parked the RV at Haas Lake Park. We had time to get cleaned up and meet our neighbors before I drove Cindy to her meeting. Shame on me but I went back to the RV and slept till she called for a ride. Friday the meetings were over at noon so we again hit the road to get ahead of the traffic heading for Chicago.

The campground that we stay at in the Chicago area is actually in Shorwood and is called Leisure Lake. It is a membership campground, but have spaces for rent like a normal campground. It is a gated campground with the office closing at 7:00 and we knew when we left Haas Lake that it would be unlikely that we could get there before they closed. We spent the night at a small campground call Kamp Across From the Dunes in Sawyer MI. arriving early enough to drive to the dunes and site see a bit.


These are some of the dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan and the beach area. We had stayed at the Indiana Dunes State Park a few years ago and this area is very similar. Both are beautiful areas. For dinner, the campground owner recommended a café in the next town just a couple of miles up the road. The name escapes me but the food was excellent and inexpensive, the pie was so good that after sharing a piece we decided that I needed to take a piece back to the RV for a late night snack.

Saturday morning we drove on to Chicago. To our surprise all four lanes on I80 were open making it a easy drive. Later we learned that they had opened I80 for the weekend because of the NASCAR race and the BMW golf tournament that weekend.

Next Blog is all about Jameson!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Catching up! Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago

Over the next few days I hope to get everyone caught up! I will start with Cincinnati. The Sunday of Labor Day weekend we left for Cincinnati. It is never good traveling on a holiday weekend so after a few phone calls to campgrounds we decided to stay in truck stop. This always creates a problem because I feel more secure in the noisier truck stop and can usually get some sleep and Cindy get little or no sleep, whereas in a Walmart parking lot I won’t sleep because I don’t feel secure and Cindy can sleep. So after I got some sleep and Cindy got a little sleep we pulled up to the truck pumps like we normally do and were told we could not get fuel at the truck pumps because they were commercial only in Indiana. We were told to pull out to the front pumps to get our diesel. The price at the non commercial pumps was almost 40 cents a gallon higher. Learned something new: Don’t Fuel-up In Indiana!! We had enough fuel to get on our way so we stopped down the road further at a Flying J and got enough fuel to get out of Indiana and had breakfast too.

We arrived at our campground mid day as we had planned. We wanted to get there and get setup early enough to drive around northern Cincinnati to find the locations of Cindy’s meetings. From the campground to her offices was only about a twenty minute drive in moderate traffic. Not too bad! We had planned to stay at a campground closer in but they were full. I am glad they were, the campground we stayed in was much nicer and cleaner. We stayed at the Olive Branch Campground in Oregonia OH. It was kind of pricey but we have found that most campgrounds near bigger cities are pricey.


Later that evening Cindy found a café on one of the travel apps that was highly recommended and it was only a couple of miles from the campground. The Little River Café was almost full when we arrived with the parking lot full of bicycles and motorcycles. We had a very nice meal before heading back to the RV and a good nights sleep.

While Cindy was working and attending meetings I got to know our neighbors and the surrounding area. The people I met were great, all of them friendly. The surrounding area (northeast of Cincinnati) is very hilly with small rivers that have become kayak and rafting areas. The roads to these areas are steep with lots of sharp turns. Along these roads you can see the entrances to Y Camps, Church Camps, and Salvation Army Youth Camps.

On Sunday we decided to go to the Cincinnati Zoo. It is the United States second oldest zoo and is in the older part of Cincinnati. Cindy and I enjoy zoos, we like watching the kids as much as watching the animals.



And of course the monkeys:


This group all had diaper rash!


Towards the end of the day at the zoo it started to rain and we cut our visit short but all in all it was a fun day!

We had planned on staying in Cincinnati for at least two weeks but the company had other plans for us. On Wednesday they decided that Cindy needed to be in Detroit on Friday for a meeting…..more to come!