Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Illinois to Georgia and back for Jenni’s First Long RV Trip!

Hello there, this is Jenni!  For those of you that don’t know me I am Ken and Cindy’s daughter–in-law and am married to their oldest son, Kyle. You are going to hear things from my point of view this time……you are in for a treat…..ENJOY!

Oh, first of all, I really am 5 foot 2 inches…………….NOT 4 feet!  I am quite ok with being short; it comes with the territory, but I had to set that record straight!  Gotta hang on to what height I do have!

This was my first long RV trip!  I have stayed and traveled in the RV before but no longer than a weekend so this was a BIG first for me………….no relation to the height thing, haha!  We were headed to Kennesaw, Georgia for Kenny Ellsworth and Jenna Reid’s wedding.  Kenny is Ken’s godson and Kenny’s parents are also really close friends to Ken and Cindy.  Since Kyle and I have been together I have had the privilege of getting to know the Ellsworths and Jenna very well.   So needless to say, I was just as excited as everyone else that they were engaged and we would be traveling to their wedding!

We left on Tuesday, June 5, as soon as Kyle got back from work.  Ken and I had spent the afternoon loading the RV and making sure everything was ready to go by the time Kyle got back so we could just head right out of Carlinville.   Cindy would be flying into Atlanta to meet us on Thursday, leaving me with the two boys.  Oh my, what an experience that was! 

The plan was to spend our first night at Ferne Clyffe State Park in Goreville, Illinois.  We arrived that evening in time for Kyle and I to take a hike on one of the trails.  I am sure it was a really cool trail, but unfortunately night over took us and we were more worried about the animal sounds we were hearing and watching our steps than trying to see anything else.    Luckily in the morning Ken took us to another trail and we were able to see the beautiful greenery of Ferne Clyffe!


From Ferne Clyffe State Park we continued our journey to Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The second day was our longest day of driving on our way down with 6 hours total of driving.  I was the designated navigator while Kyle road in the back and got lots of precious reading time in…….I was really jealous of that! 

At the end of our second day (first all-day-of-travel) we decided to stay the night at Holiday Trav-L Park .  It was a different experience for me, being so close to other campers.  I am used to the more secluded campsites that Ken and Cindy choose, but it was really nice and even the red fire ants welcomed Kyle to Tennessee!  Poor guy had little red bites all over his ankles.

The next morning, Thursday,  we headed out on our last leg of the trip to Victoria Campground in Woodstock, Georgia.  The campground was really impressive and really beautiful!  Very wooded and part of the campground overlooked Allatoona Lake.  Our campsite did not overlook the lake but it was close enough that we could easily walk to it. 


Thursday was spent relaxing in the RV since we were all really tired.  I took full advantage of the boys napping and got some of MY precious reading time in.  I am reading the 50 Shades trilogy and was on the second book at the time.  It is an interesting read to say the least and I was excited to have a chance to kick back to read.  Ken awoke and decided this was a photo opportunity.



We were joined by Cindy that night, and the next morning we headed into downtown Atlanta to see the Georgia Aquarium.  We stopped first at a diner across the street from the aquarium for lunch, Johnny Rockets.  It was a really cool retro diner that took you back to the 50s and 60s.  Their food was delicious, their shakes were yummy, the music really set the scene, and the diner itself (staff dress included) really completed the time warp!


I have only been to 2 other aquariums in my life and this Aquarium put them to shame!  Being the largest aquarium in the world will do that for you though.  It was absolutely amazing!  My favorite part was the “Dolphin Tales.” I have never seen dolphins perform and I loved it.  In fact I enjoyed it so much, that I wasn’t sure if Kyle enjoyed watching me act like a little kid more than watching the show himself.  If you ever get the chance to see this, do!  Unfortunately they didn’t allow any photography in the showroom so we don’t have pictures of this………..guess you will have to take my word on this!

We also saw a variety of fish from different rivers and oceans world wide, big fish, small fish, eels, sea horses, and frogs!  They even swam over our heads in parts, it was too cool!


That night we made it back just in time to change and watch the beautiful bride-to- be Jenna run through the ceremony rehearsal, with her dad by her side. 


On Saturday, the wedding day, Kyle and I took advantage of some alone time and toured the Smith Gilbert Gardens in downtown Kennesaw.  This is our second week long vacation since we have been married and since we toured a garden on our honeymoon we decided this would be a perfect way to spend the afternoon before the wedding. 

One of our favorite parts was the rose garden where there were probably close to 40 kinds of roses of different colors and breeds.  It was beautiful and we couldn’t  resist taking pictures in this beautiful area. 


We even found an alphabet garden.  Each letter had a plant with it that began with that letter………….so I snagged some photos that stood for each of our names, including our last name!


Finally, the wedding!  The ceremony took place at the First United Lutheran Church in Kennesaw.   Kenny’s first glance at Jenna as she walks down the aisle.  Being a bride once, I know what a special moment this was between Kenny and Jenna.  Kenny’s smile says it all!


The minister did something that not everyone does, a blessing over the couple.   It was a very peaceful moment especially when you see the bride and groom together with heads down in reverence.  We were also able to catch a photo of  the presentation of the couple for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Kenny Ellsworth and, of course, their first kiss as husband and wife.  


Kenny and Jenna with the rest of the Ellsworth family, his parents Dave and Donna and his brother, Brian.


The reception was held at the Pine Tree Country Club, also in Kennesaw.  Everything was beautiful and the party turned out to be a really good time……especially all the dancing and getting to spend some time with the newly weds before they left on their honeymoon!


Sunday was another lazy day for us all.  You have to recuperate like that after such an awesome time the night before!  Plus it was raining so the only thing that could get us out of the RV was food.  We wanted to try this JD’s BBQ that we had passed by many times that weekend.  It turned out to be pretty yummy!


We spent the rest of the evening playing the game, Carcassonne.  Kyle had been on a winning streak that we were intent on killing!  Cindy won one of the games and then Kyle took back over, ARGH!  The next morning, Monday, was really early,  and I decided that since Kyle isn’t the sweetest morning person, that I would be the one to ride with Ken and Cindy to the airport in Atlanta at 4:40 AM.  Cindy left me alone once again with the boys, and they didn’t wait too long before they got their shenanigans started again! 

Ken, who also got up that early, was awesome and drove us from Georgia all the way to Metropolis, Illinois!  Kyle and I were not the troopers we should have been but neither of us could keep our eyes open, so we took our turns sleeping on the couch.   We ate at Cindy’s favorite Mexican restaurant that night, El Tequila.  Too bad, Cindy wasn’t there with us though! 

That night the boys played more Carcassonne where I believe Ken kicked Kyle’s butt in both games while I worked on writing this blog.  I also wasn’t feeling that great, especially the next morning (the beginnings of a sinus infection are not fun and usually knock me down pretty well the first few days), but I was a trooper the next morning and rode with the boys into Metropolis downtown to pose with SUPERMAN!




While Ken packed up the RV, Kyle and I walked through the Fort Massac Museum and grounds around the museum.  The fort overlooked the Ohio River and switched hands between the Spanish, French, British, and Americans over about  time before ending up in the American’s hands.  There was a replica built of the fort, that unfortunately was closed, but was still really cool to look at.  In the middle of what looked like the grounds for the original fort stood a statue of George Rogers Clark.   George Rogers Clark took  Fort Massac from the British in 1778.


We left Metropolis that morning and arrived in Carlinville around 4.  Ken worked on loading the jeep to take home to Quincy for the night.  He had a few things to do there before picking up the RV Wednesday to drive back up to Joliet for the weekend where he will pick Cindy up and visit Trevor and Leah……….and of course Jameson!  I worked on unloading our belongings from the RV and making a mess of our house that I had no intention of touching till the next day.  Kyle took off right away to pick up our puppy, Staley from the kennel.  We all said our goodbyes and I was sure to thank Ken for all he and Cindy did for us over our trip! 

My first long RV trip was a success and I had a lot of fun!  Thank you again, Ken and Cindy, for a wonderful trip! 

I hope you all enjoyed a new writer of the blog and I hope that I will get to do this again!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beaver Dam, Bathroom Remodel, and Memorial Day


May was highlighted by camping at Beaver Dam while working on Kyle and Jenni’s bathroom and a Memorial weekend in Marion Illinois.


This is site 4 at Beaver Dam and my brave morning visitor.  Site 4 is behind the host site and is one of the more secluded sites.  However, because it is near the host site there are more rules to observe, so the host John and Dave were fond of telling me. 


The purpose of this trip was to remodel Kyle and Jenni’s bathroom. It was more complicated than we first thought.  I had to move the sink vent and replace the sub floor under the stool before doing any other work.  Jenni and Kyle pitched in when ever they could. 


Jenni painting trim…                                       Kyle getting ready to paint….                     Kyle and I telling Cindy “we are busy”



The finished product!  Jenni has good taste!  She picked the colors and cabinets then added nice accent pieces! 


Memorial Day weekend went as a group in the RV to Marion Illinois to see Erin Casey and their new baby.   They invited us to their house for a pool party on Saturday.  Thankfully the camera was not allowed so there is no evidence of any of us being seen in bathing suits. We did have a great time visiting and cooling off in their pool!


Sunday we went to part of the southern Illinois wine trail.  We only made it to two wineries before calling it a day!  The first winery was called Walkers Bluff and is so new that they are not producing wine yet.  They picked the area they did only after studying the microclimate to determine that it had a similar climate to Spain and parts of Italy.  They hope to produce wines of a similar quality as the wines produced in those European areas. 


Walkers Bluff is very nicely done.  They have a 4 star restaurant plans for a 4 star hotel, the winery, and an outdoor concert area.  The concert area is booking big names like Sheryl Crow and Charlie Daniels Band.  They have dug their own wine caves for storage and for entertaining.  They have spent big bucks in the middle of nowhere trying to do it right! I hope they are successful. 


The second winery we went to was called Blue Sky.   We ate a mid afternoon lunch here with a couple of bottles of wine.  They had won several awards for their wines.  

Also you can tell from the pictures below that we enjoyed are time here!




These wineries are remote as you can tell from the picture of the road back to Marion and dinner!


One last picture!   Stahley is watching Kyle’s plate to make sure she gets any leftovers!