Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday night in Mercer, PA

Thursday, 7/28/11 - We finally rolled into Pennsylvania and are staying at a very nice Coast to Coast RV park, Plantation Park located in a small town, Mercer, PA. My first reaction when I saw the park was hallelujah, the grounds are flat and they have real roads, not rocks for my morning walk. This whole area back here is hilly and it's darn near impossible to take my morning walk without hills and my lower back is screaming for help.

Actually, this must be a "wild bunch" here as we were looking forward to bingo on Saturday night but it starts at 11 pm.......can you believe these people stay up that late for bingo? Forget it!!! They have a beautiful swimming pool, a store that serves fast food and a big lake for fishing. It is a huge place and we will leave here Sunday morning to visit with Wills friends, Greg & Andy.

Friday, 7/29/11 - Mercer is a small darling town, that centers around the most beautiful Mercer County Courthouse Square, the building located there is huge and probably built in the late 1800's. We drove around the downtown area and found out that during the summer, located in Courthouse Square they have the Mercer Community Band that does a summer concert series. Tonight's theme is "Hooray for Hollywood." In 1977 Dr. H. Hoge, the current band director, started the community band, which performs each Friday night in June and July in Courthouse Square. People bring their lawn chairs and set up around the bandstand for a pre performance, which was a Barbershop Chorus and then the concert starts at 7 pm. There is also an ice cream social, where you can buy home made pies & cakes and ice cream, plus popcorn for ME. Will and I estimated there were probably 500 people there this evening for the concert. We had the good fortunate to sit next to a wonderful local couple, Ann & Robert who told us about the town and the area and we so enjoyed visiting with them through out the evening. Hopefully, we will run into them in Maine as they are headed up there in about 2 weeks and so are we. We had a grand time and it was a beautiful evening and just the perfect thing to do in Mercer, PA.

Saturday, 7/30/11 - Today was a great day, the sun came out and actually stayed out all day, which seems to be unusual for this area. There was a flea market here in the park this morning which Will and I went to and walked around. Of course Will has no patience for these types of things so we left early, which was ok with me as most was real junk! After that I did the laundry, one of my favorite ways to spend a morning while Will cleaned the RV.....his favorite.

After lunch, I decided to head down to Grove City, PA (7 miles from Mercer) as they have a huge and I mean huge Premium Outlet Stores. There are hotels, motels and lots of restaurants surrounding this place, the brochure says that over 6 million people visit this place each year. It makes Gilroy, CA look like a drive by. When I got there the place was already jammed and I had a hard time finding a parking space but persevered. I walked the entire place, not going into every store but seeing it all. It was a fun day and I used great restraint and only bought a couple of pair of black shorts.......just what I need, more black shorts! Returning home to take a well deserved nap and see what the evening brings. Much love to all our family and friends.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Finally, leaving Huber RV park for Pennsylvania

Tuesday, 7/26/11 - Seven days at Huber RV, Hubert Heights, OH is really seven days to long. We are both anxious to get out of here, I even agreed to forgo my 3 mile walk this morning so we could get out of here extra early. Because we had a "mickey mouse" water set up under our neighbors trailer, Stanley had to come by this morning and disconnect it for us as Will couldn't climb under the trailer. That happened about 8:30 am and while that was being done I decided to walk around a few streets and take some pictures of the place, just in case we ever forget. The amazing thing as I look at the pictures it didn't look that bad, I guess it's one of those things you had to experience.

I took pictures of "my dog" that had to be moved from our RV spot, when we arrived, to another tree behind his place. All this week I made sure he had water and gave him dogie treat through out the week, trying to make his life a little better for the time we were here. A very sweet dog and he sure deserved a better home and master. Of course if my mother, Mimi was still alive, she would have stolen him away during the night and gave him a GREAT HOME, but unfortunately, I couldn't do that. I just made his life better for a little while.

Well we are "on the road again" and out of there and boy does it feel good to be in the RV and heading anywhere. We are spending tonight at a Coast to Coast park, Grand Haven Resort, Kimbolton, OH a huge place with stables, 2 pools, lots of activities and so much more. It is so nice we decided to stay 2 days to get caught up on washing and just relax for a day. When we leave here we head for I-80 and Pennsylvania to see Wills old friend, Greg & Andy Goodman. Much love to all our family and friends.

Sightseeing at US Air Force Museum, Fairborn, OH

Monday, 7/25/11 - Our last full day in Hubert Heights, OH, Kim, Bill, Eric, Will and I set out that morning to explore the Air Force Museum located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It was only about 15 minutes from where we are staying and we arrived around 10:30 am. Will and I toured this museum on our last big cross country trip in 2004-05 and I can remember spending the whole day and having to drag Will out when they started announcing the closing time at 4 pm, closingir the doors at 5 pm.

When we arrived we discovered (we forgot) there is no charge to enter the museum, this is your tax dollars at work on something we can enjoy! The place is 3 gigantic hangers that includes: Early Years Gallery/Wright Bros. early, plus early military flight up to World War II; World War II Gallery, Korean War Gallery, Southeast Asia War Gallery, Berlin Airlift Exhibit, Cold War Gallery, Missile & Space Gallery plus you sign up to be taken by bus to a special hanger that included a one hour tour of several Presidential planes that we were able to board. Now to do this place right you should plan to spend a couple days here, however, we only had this one day and managed to see everything. Kim caught on early that you can't read everything you just have to keep moving. Well, we kept moving until they made the 4 pm, "there is one hour till closing announcement" and we finally got out of there at 4:30 pm. We missed the IMAX Theatre, the Air Park with outdoor exhibits and for the last several days they were having a competition of radio controlled "jet planes." Inside one of the hangars, some of the competitors were working and repairing their airplanes. Will asked one of the guys from the Germany team, what these planes cost. He said, "about the price of a car." They come from all over the world to race these planes and boy were the guys sorry they missed seeing that!

We were all exhausted after leaving the museum and Will, "The Bank of Dad" (a great tee shirt we saw on some older guy at the museum) took us all out to dinner at Wendy's. We took "the kids" back to Adrienne house, where they are staying.....the bride and groom, Fallon & Steve, are on their honeymoon in the they could pack and get ready for their flight back to Clovis tomorrow morning. The only disaster of the day was Kim's mother, grandma of the bride, missed her early Monday morning flight and had to spend the day/night at a Holiday Inn at the Dayton airport. They will all leave Tuesday for home.

We headed back to our RV, anxiously and very happy to get out of Huber RV Park early Tuesday morning. Will and I decided this was by far the worse place we have ever stayed in all our years of travel. Stanley, the manager, was a great guy and he promises if we come back next year we will see a completely different park.....he has big plans for the place. Good luck Stanley, but I don't think we will be coming back. Much love to all our family and friends.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fallon & Steve's last...Dayton, OH

Sunday, 7/24/11 - This has been a very busy week in Dayton, Ohio for all of us. At last, Wills granddaughter, Fallon married her long time boyfriend, Steve in a beautiful wedding held at Wright Patterson Air Force Base on Saturday, 7/23. The wedding ceremony was held on base in a small chapel with approximately 150 people in attendance. The bride was absolutely beautiful in her strapless, body fitting gown with pearls, that flared at the bottom with a short train. The attendant's wore long strapless dresses in her favorite color...burnt orange. The guys wore black tuxes with burnt orange vests. It was a beautiful and short ceremony (which the guys liked) approximately 12 minutes. After the ceremony the guests were directed to the reception being held at the Officer's Club on base, about a half mile from the chapel. All of the family on both sides remained at the chapel for wedding pictures.

The California family arrived in Dayton late on Tuesday, 7/19 which consisted on Wills daughter, Kim, husband Bill, Wills son, Eric which is Fallon's father and grandma, Will's ex-wife, Bobbi.

The week was filled with plenty of "wedding drama" which we all survived, everyone got along and I think, everyone really enjoyed the week. Of course it has been the hottest week that Ohio has experienced in over decade but we survived that also. Now us Clovis/Fresno people know heat but throw in the humidity mix and it is something else. If it's 93 degrees they report, the "heat index", which makes the humidity feel like its 105 outside.

We have had several breakfasts & dinners together and all assembled to finish stuffing wedding favors using the every successful "congo line." On Friday, 7/22 we all went to the Air Force Base to have the wedding rehearsal which was great fun and my "picture taking" was in full swing. After the rehearsal we all drove out to Steve's moms house where she hosted a delicious rehearsal dinner.

This morning we gathered at Fallon's mom and step dad, Bev & Ted for a brunch and the opening of the wedding presents. It was, once more, a gathering of the families. Bev is originally from England so her brother and two sisters plus other family were here for the wedding. Many of Fallon's friends and of course the California group. They have a lovely home on about 1 acre with a full basement (Wills favorite thing about houses back here) and a nice swimming pool and outdoor space. After the opening of the presents, most of them went swimming......not the California group and then Will and I left shortly after that, due to rain, lightning & thunder storms. At least the horrid weather has broke a little.

A great big thank you to all of Fallon and Steve's family for their amazing hospitality to all of us and the absolutely beautiful wedding they put on. We made a lot of wonderful new friends and look forwarding to seeing everyone some day in the future. Of course we will NOT be staying at Huber RV Park when we return...............You were sooooooooo right is a dump! Much love to all our family and friends. It will be moving day for us on Tuesday, 7/26.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Carillon Historic Park, Dayton, OH

Monday, 7/18/11 - We decided today we would go and find out something about the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur after all, Dayton, OH is the beginning of aviation. There were so many places around here about the Wright Bros we couldn't decide but then settled on Carillon Park as they have on display the original 1905 Wright Flyer III. Boy, did we pick the right place!

It was about 40 miles from where we are currently staying but so worth the trip. It was set up as a complete historical park village of Dayton, Ohio showing buildings that were actually moved here from their original locations. All the items and companies on display were important to the early development of Dayton.

The village is set up in sort of a "horseshoe shape" and you go in and out of the buildings and displays. Some of the buildings were: Print Shop - 1930 era working printing office; Dayton Sales - an auto sales building actually displaying old cars of that era; Sun Oil Station - located in Dayton and the pumps and garage were moved here; Newcom Tavern - An actual 1796 tavern located in Dayton but spared being torn down and moved to the village. Our 2nd personal favorite was the Transportation Center -all located in a round building showing a City Railway Car, B & O Caboose and many more old means of transportation. We were the only ones in there at the time and had our very own personal guide showing & explaining everything. There were at least 25 buildings in this "horseshoe village" and we just wandered in and out of them. Because of the incredible heat and humidity we literally had the place to ourselves and it was incredibly fascinating.

Of course our favorite was the Wright Bros Aviation Center which told the story of the Wright Bros which all started with the Wright Cycle Shop, a bicycle shop which they became very successful with. The bicycle shop actually funded their early airplane experiments. We watched a 15 minute movie that was very interesting story of the brothers, who never married, and came from a family that consisted of 4 boys and 1 girl. Because the Wright Bros were fanatical in documentation they have so much information regarding those early years. After viewing the movie we then entered the building where the 1905 Wright Flyer III is housed. We were told the first one is in the Smithsonian Institute, the second one crashed and this is the third one, housed here. We had a wonderful docent who was extremely knowledgeable and told us so much about the plane and the Wright Bros. It truly was a fun day, in spite of the weather, and we were so glad we picked "the right one."

As the Wright Bros Aviation Center is the last building in the park, we had lunch before leaving in their restaurant called Culp's Cafe, reminiscent of Culp's Cafeteria that was located in downtown Dayton in 1930 and 1940's. The waitresses even wore uniforms of that era. It was a wonderful day and actually our first sightseeing adventure since we have been in Dayton. After leaving the park we let the girlfriend GPS take us home where we collapsed in the RV with the air conditioning cranked. Our opinion of this weather............THEY CAN HAVE IT!!!! Much love to our family and friends.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dinner with Fallon, Adrienne & Steve, Dayton, OH

Friday, 7/15/11 - Several months before leaving on this trip I tried to find an RV park in close to Huber Heights, OH where the wedding is to take place. I was only able to fine ONE and unbelievable as it seems, it was less than a mile from the bride/granddaughters house. I felt it was definitely "meant to be." When Fallon was in Fresno I asked her if she would check it out when she got home and let me know. Well, she did and said it was a DUMP....... I decided to wait on it and booked a campground (as a back up) outside of town. So today we decided to check it out ourselves knowing that we have stayed in plenty of RV parks that are dumps.

Well she was is a dump, just think a "trailer trash type park" and that's it. However, we met the new manager Stanley, who was very nice and the location was perfect and the price was even better....we said we would take a space for 7 days, starting 7/19 and leaving 7/27. Of course we may have to rent a guard dog for our duration there.

Saturday, 7/16/11 - A day of just hanging around in So Charleston, OH. Will needed a new water hose for the RV so we found an RV dealership not to far and bought a new hose then spent the rest of the time looking at new RV's and 5th Wheels. Of course, we never find anything we like more than ours no matter what the price. It's pretty hard to beat this 2 bathroom Bounder in our book.

That afternoon, I decided to go check out this huge (and I mean huge) barn/building that is filled to capacity with antiques and right down the street (3 blocks.) Honestly, I have never seen anything like it, The Heart of Ohio Antiques. They have an auction in the morning, which I did not attend. I went in the afternoon and just wandered up and down the aisles looking at furniture, glassware and every type of antique imaginable. They even have a restaurant inside there. It was to much to see in one day so I plan to come back on Sunday and finish up looking.

Sunday, 7/17/11 - Well, that's exactly what I did, went back to spend several more hours wandering around the antiques. I especially loved all the cobalt blue glass they had and what the prices they were asking. Many years ago I collected blue glass and had quite a bit in my china closet. Today, that china closet lives with Nancy and Howard in New Jersey for them to enjoy. It was really a fun experience.

Tonight we are meeting Wills twin granddaughters, Adrienne and Fallon and Fallon's soon be husband Steve for dinner at the Outback Restaurant. They have given us the address and girlfriend GPS takes us right to the place and even 30 minutes usual. We were excited to see the girls and meet Steve, who is a very nice and good looking young man.

It was a wonderful opportunity to visit with them by ourselves and hear all about the wedding, the plans for the rehearsal and their honeymoon. We learned that Adrienne is moving to Texas in a couple of weeks to be with her boyfriend who is living and working in Forth Worth, TX. It was a very fun evening and we were so glad it worked out for all of us. Dinner was great and I finally got to have an Outback Blooming Onion.............OMG, was that delicious. I could of had that for the main course.

We can't wait for Kim, Bill and Eric to get here next week ....much love to all family and friends.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back in Ohio....So Charleston, OH

Thursday, 7/14//11 - We left Indiana this morning with only a 90 mile drive to our next Coast to Coast park....Beaver Valley Resort in So Charleston, Ohio just outside of Dayton about 30 miles. Our plan is to stay here at this park and try to find a place closer to Dayton for when Will's kids arrive and the wedding festivities. Tomorrow we will take the car and go exploring, however it does feel good to be in one spot for more than one day.

Will called his granddaughter Fallon, the bride to be and invited her and her soon to be husband out to dinner this week and they are going to let him know if and when we can get together. It will be a nice opportunity to sit and visit with both of them before all the commotion of the wedding takes place.

Life seems a little slower now that we are not sightseeing and that is a welcome break, of course I can't go to long without be "the activities director" but we will have plenty of time for that when we leave Dayton. Much love to all our family and friends.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Still driving through Corn & Soy Beans, Straughn, IN

Wednesday, 7/13/11 - Today has been a very long day of driving....mostly for Will, of course, but being a navigator (that's me) is hard work. I swear it's hard to believe how much corn and soy beans are growing in these three states, Iowa, Illinois & Ohio. Last night I googled "corn uses" and up came a web site titled "A Zillion Uses for Corn" and let me tell you corn is in everything and I mean everything.

We are staying in a really nice Passport America park, New Lisbon Family Campground, Straughn, IN it is half way between Indianapolis and Ohio. It's a really large place with many people living in their trailers full time. However, where we are we overlook a real nice lake that is right next to I74 so we will have an easy exit back onto the freeway.

I was very disappointed to miss the Home Run Derby and All Star Game this year. I always have such a great time with Nancy, while she is working of course but also seeing so many of her friends. I promised her next year I would be there....God willing.

Not much to report on a travel day and we are looking forward to arriving in Ohio tomorrow and staying in one place for a couple of weeks. I think I have to get outside now and walk around that lake or at least sneak on to one of the boat docks of someone who's not home. Much love to all family and friends.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Leaving Iowa for Dayton, OH

Tuesday, 7/12/11 - First off, a great big THANK YOU to our dear friends, Chuck & Ann of Wheatland, OH for their incredible hospitality. It was a wonderful visit and one we will remember for a very long time. How lucky Will and I feel to have been parked right behind you 2010/11 in Mesa, Arizona and made a lasting friendship. We look forward to you guys joining us sometime in the future in Clovis/Fresno, CA. Of course the plan right now is to meet up at Mesa Spirit in the winter of 2013.

This morning was met with a knock on the door to join Chuck & Ann for a pancake breakfast before we leave Iowa this morning, which of course we gladly did. Amazing, just as I was getting ready to take my walk the pancake invite came and of course that was the end of that! After breakfast we hooked up the car to the RV and Chuck & Ann led us down the road to "the world's largest truck stop" - Iowa80

Now I couldn't have really ever imagined what the world's largest truck stop could look like but it was truly amazing. It is located in Walcot, Iowa on I-80 and exit 284 and I'm going to list a few of the amenities at this place: Food Court with Wendy's DQ, Taco Bell Pizza Hut and more, Convenience Store, Truck Wash, Super Truck Show floor - 30,000 sq ft of more than 50,000 items to customize, repair or maintain your truck, Dogomat Pet Wash, 7 Bay Service Center, Driver's Den with fireplace, dentist, hair stylist, chiropractor, laundry, 24 private showers, Fuel Islands with 16 lanes and so much MORE...... They also have a truck museum on the grounds And this weekend is the Walcott Truckers Jamboree with a Marty Stuart concert. Among the events they will have is a Super Truck Beauty Contest, Iowa Pork Chop Cook Out, Fireworks, Antique Truck display (Chuck & Ann are entering their 1919 Osmobile) and so much more. The event is Thursday 7/14 and Friday 7/15.

We had a great time walking thru the complex, me taking pictures, and spent all of the morning there. We decided to have lunch before we hit the road with Chuck and Will dining on chili cheese dogs at Dairy Queen and a side note: Will who has a rating system for hot dogs gave this a 10 and he has never had a 10 hot dog. Ann & I had Wendy's salads that were very delicious also, and we all finished off lunch with a Dairy Queen ice cream. I had my first ever DQ peanut butter mini blizzard and boy was it good. After lunch we said our good byes to our wonderful friends Chuck & Ann and headed East on I80 heading for I74 through Illinois for Dayton.

This evening we are staying in a real nice Passport America RV park, Kamp Komfort Campground, Carlock, IL for a bargain price of $12. Of course Chuck & Ann's front yard was OUR best deal.....them & free. Much love to all our family and friends.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Shocking Storm at 5 am in Iowa

Monday, 7/11/11 - Last night before going to bed it was incredibly hot, humid and actually hard to breath. Because we are plugged into their electricity here we have not been using the air conditioning, just our little table fan. Will also couldn't get over how "still" it was, I mean nothing was moving it was just eery. He was concerned enough to turn on the weather channel to see if there were any warnings of a bad storm in the area. They were talking about the Sahara Desert so I assured him things must be ok or else the "storm watchers" would be on patrol. We turned off the TV and went to bed but sleeping was impossible in this heat. Somewhere along the line I fell asleep but Will says he hardly slept at all.

About 5 am this morning we heard this lightning, thunder and a crash. The wind had started blowing so hard it was smashing the big awning over the front door like crazy. We jumped out of bed and Will started out the front door. The wind was so strong it we couldn't even open the door. At this moment it is pouring rain and every window and vent on the roof is open and water is coming in from everywhere. Will is outside and I am trying to retract the awning from inside (we have a switch at the front door that extents/retracts this awning) I had to find a flashlight & try to get to the switch. Now all this is happening in minutes. I'm sure, as I think Will did, the big awning is smashed & unusable but glory be, I hit the button and in it comes. It didn't seem to come all the way so we were sure there was a problem but at least it was up. Will ran to the other side of the RV to put up the kitchen/living room awnings while I'm running and shutting windows to keep the rain out. Shortly, the wind subsides but it continues to rain, thunder and lightning. We can't believe what just happened and are grateful it wasn't worse than it was. Around 6 am Chuck came out to check on us and told us the TV reported wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. I believe it!!!

Within a couple hours the sun came out and it was beautiful again however it is still very hot and humid. Will has checked the awning and thinks it is ok but the test will come when we are driving. While watching the weather channel this morning they show very hot and stormy weather for the surrounding areas in this next week so we have decided to "hit the road" for Ohio tomorrow. With Wills kids coming into Dayton on July 20th and the wedding July 23rd it just makes more sense for us to be closer to Dayton in case of bad weather or trouble. So that's the plan, we leave Iowa tomorrow - weather permitting!

This morning, after the big storm I did some laundry and visited with Ann and her daughter Sherry. Sherry is in the process of opening her own quilting store in a small town near here and judging from what I have seen of her work...she will be very successful. Good Luck Sherry!

This afternoon we went into Davenport to WalMart to get a pedicure, get some money and do a little shopping. As soon as we returned we took a nap, exhausted from last night and our early morning extravaganzas. This evening Ann is attending a tractor organization meeting they belong to and Chuck and Will are trying to get an antique truck started that Chuck is going to display at the truck show this Friday at the Worlds Largest Truck Stop, I80. Hey, they just got it started and drove the 1919 Osmobile truck by the RV to show me and boy are they happy and having fun driving all around the farm.. It's a different way of life here. Much love to all family and friends.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Titanic in Davenport, Iowa

Sunday, 7/10/11 - Chuck comes over to our door about 8 am and says Ann is cooking waffles, do we want to have breakfast with them? Boy, he didn't have to ask us twice, we got dressed immediately and headed over to the "big house." There we were served hot waffles, fresh sliced peaches, orange juice and all the fixings....deeelicious. After breakfast, I decided I desperately needed some exercise so head off down the road to the next town, Big Rock which is 2 miles round trip. I usually do 3 miles but this is 1 mile down and 1 mile UP HILL coming two miles was plenty. Now it was latter than I usually walk, 9 am and hot and humid already, boy was I sweating and tired when I returned. Tomorrow I will definitely start earlier and on an empty stomach.

Chuck and Ann invited me to attend church with them this morning so we left for Wheatland about 10:45 am. A cute little country church with a fairly large congregation of every age....from babies to elderly. The minister had just returned with the youth group from a trip to Estes Park, Colorado. He had a slide show and told about the trip and next Sunday the kids will be giving their stories on it. It was an enjoyable message and we were out at 12 noon.

We had to rush home, eat a fast lunch and head for Davenport, Iowa as Ann had bought tickets for the touring Titanic exhibit at the Putnam Museum. Today was the last day and Will and I had not seen it before in any of our travels. When you enter the exhibit you are given a name of an actual person who travelled on the Titanic, what class they were on in the ship and a little background of that person. I had a 25 year old married lady traveling FIRST CLASS with her husband, 2 children and 4 servants........the other three had third class passage (and Wills was Chinese.) Well I was sure I was going to make it after all - first class women and children were first in the life rafts. We had a time to enter the exhibit, 1 pm and it takes approx. 1 1/2 to go through. We saw exhibits of the staterooms of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd class passengers. Many artifacts that have been brought up from the ocean floor. They said there are 6 Titanic exhibits touring and depending on the amount of space they have determines how much they could show. Unfortunately, this area was not that large but it really was something to see. When we arrived at the end of the exhibit we learned about "our passenger" and what happened to them. Shockingly, my lady, her husband and 1 child died, while 1 child survived. Will & Ann survived and Chuck didn't make it either. We then toured other exhibits in the museum that had lots of history and wonderful stories of early Iowa.

When we arrived on Saturday, I told Ann & Chuck that I hadn't had Chinese food since I left Fresno and needed a Chinese food fix, they assured me they had the perfect place in Davenport to take us to. So after the museum, we took a tour of downtown Davenport, went up and walked across a "skywalk" that overlooks the Mississippi River, which is a spectacular view of the river, bridges and the city. Ann drove us by some old, houses where the very rich people lived along time ago and I'm sure the current crop paid plenty for them. Then we headed off to dinner on the North side of Davenport to the Dynasty Restaurant. It was a Chinese buffet and larger than any place I have ever seen. The "walk thru" before eating was an ordeal in itself. But we all managed to find what we wanted and I can assure you my Chinese fix was satisfied. It was another wonderful day with our friends in Iowa and I look forward to the rest of our time here with them. Much love to all family and friends.

Corn and Soy Bean... that's Iowa

Saturday, 7/9/11 - We cross over the Mississippi River from Illinois into Iowa heading for our friends, Chuck & Ann. They said as we exit at 294 on I-80 we will pass the world's largest truck stop, boy they weren't kidding. It's call I80 and is huge, they have a truck museum and every imaginable thing there for trucks. I can't wait to go back and take the tour of it. Well GPS girlfriend knows right where to go and in about 15 minutes we are there.

They have a beautiful home complete with 2 big barns (filled with tractors and every imaginable thing) a silo (which they store wood in) a gardening shed (Ann has a fabulous flower and vegetable garden.) The place is gorgeous. We set the RV up right in their side/front yard, in front of their 5th wheel and one of the sheds. Put out the awing & lawn chairs and have a million dollar view of lots of green corn and soy beans.

After our hellos they take us on a tour of the sheds w/all the antique tractors and truck, all the equipment.....these people are COLLECTORS, big time collectors and they have a lot of stuff and everything is as neat as a pin. It was truly unbelievable. I of course am trailing along taking pictures of everything. After we head into the house for a tour which is a large, open floor plan with an amazing basement the size of the house. Will and I decided we could live down there very easily. The basement has a large TV and viewing area, guest bedroom & bathroom, pinball machines, their Christmas tree that they leave up all year long in the basement and more collections of everything.
This is John Deere country and they have a lot of green and yellow here.

After the tour they take us to one of their favorite restaurants for dinner. Bluff Lakes. An interesting story about this place. Some years back the owners had a home on a fishing lake filled with catfish. When you caught a fish they would cook it for you, with time this grew into a restaurant & gift shop being built there. They are open 4 days a week, Thursday through Sunday and the meals are served family style. To get there you enter a gravel, county road, going by houses with barns and animals (seeing no one) and all of sudden - down the hill you see a jammed parking lot and people milling around everywhere. We arrive there at 4:10 pm (the restaurant opens at 4) and there must have been already 50 people there. They say it is not unusual to have a 2 hour or more wait....ours was just one hour. We had drinks and free popcorn out on the deck and fed the catfish & ducks while waiting for them to call our name.

Each night has a different menu, on Saturday night its all you can eat, fried haddock, cold slaw and french fries. They keep coming around to your table asking if you want more of anything. The food is delicious, Will and I agreed the cole slaw was the BEST we had ever tasted but the fish & fries (fries cooked w/the skins on) was delicious. We had a window seat overlooking the lake with a water fall. What a great place, so glad they brought us here.

Prior to arriving at the restaurant they took us on a tour of the countryside around their house. Wheatland, where they lived before moving to their present home (which is outside of Wheatland city limits.) Ann then drove us to her town where she was raised and showed us homes and schools of her past. It seems most people in this area spend their entire lives living right here. Ann's daughter lives 1 mile down the road from them and Chuck has several children that live in the area. Ann knows EVERYTHING about this area and was able to tell us so much about the farming, etc and you know.............I had questions.

Well we were dead tired by the time we returned home, it had been a very long day. So grateful to have such wonderful friends in Ann and Chuck and I can't wait for what tomorrow brings. Much love to all family and friends.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Heading for Chuck & Ann's, Wheatland, Iowa

Thursday, 7/7/11 - We are headed for Iowa this morning to visit with our Mesa Spirit friends, Chuck and Ann of Wheatland, Iowa. This pass winter in Mesa, AZ Chuck and Ann were our neighbors parked right behind us. Chuck also know as "Chuckie Chicken" was responsible and so helpful to Will in getting him interested in Stain Glass classes. Chuck has made numerous stain glass chickens, which is why he is know as Chuckie least by Will.

We have a lot of miles to cover to get to Iowa, visit with them and be back in Dayton, Ohio by 7/19/11 for Wills granddaughter Fallon's wedding on 7/23. So we leave Grafton, Ohio this morning and Will is very happy to leave American Wilderness Campground. Now in Ohio they have a toll road that goes across the entire state which would probably cost a fortunate driving it. I find that highway 20 runs parallel with the toll road so we set out on this road. It's really quite nice, we pass through many little towns, several with large Amish populations. The going is slower than an interstate but really nice. We make it to Pioneer, OH to a Passport America park aka "a dump" but who cares, its cheap and only for one night.

Friday, 7/8/11 - We head out this morning and make it across all of Indiana still on highway 20....the free road and then half way across Illinois. Tonight we are staying at a Coast to Coast park in Marseilles, IL. This place is huge and also "a dump" but only $10 and we use points to stay here. Let's just say we won't be coming back to either of these places. Will is pretty tired but we have a short drive tomorrow into Iowa, and a fun visit with Chuck and Ann who live near Davenport. Not sure how long we will stay, but remembering the old saying, " both fish and company stink after 3 days." Much love to all family and friends.

Yankee Photo Shoot - Day 2, Cleveland, OH

Wednesday, 7/6/11 - Who thought they could possibly top day 1 of the Yankee photo shoot, but they did! Nancy's boss was very grateful to me for the "sacrifice" I made by helping them out he asked Nancy, what could they do for me. Fast thinker that she is, she said, "she would probably love to have her picture taken with Nick Swisher." He said, done!!! So it was arranged that when Nick came to the photo shoot, I was to get in the car and drive back with him.

It was PERFECT, honestly I couldn't have planned this any better. Nick came down, we got in the car just as the fans started to run across the street and then started running after the car, honestly this must be what it's like to have the paparazzi after you. We were held up at the light on the corner & a young girl wearing a Swisher Shirt had a ball and pen in her hand standing at the back window. Nick, the gentleman that he is, rolled the window down and signed her baseball, the light changed and off we went. Good Stuff.

Nick is so personable and we chatted in the car for the couple minutes ride over. I had texted Nancy we were on our way and told her Nick was in a hurry, so I was doubtful about me getting a picture. Oh well, how can you complain when your riding in the limo with Nick Swisher. We got there & the photo shoot started and it was great fun. He has an unbelievable personality and the room and everyone in it just lights up. After they were done with his photo shoot and he was in his Yankee uniform, they asked him if I could take a picture with him. It was the best, the photographer got the first picture of me walking towards Nick with his arms out stretched and then another picture of him hugging me. Both of those 8x10's will be going up on my Yankee wall.

Ok, what could top that.....I have another story that seems more like a dream when I think of it. Mariano Rivera was our last Yankee for the photo shoot. The crowds outside the hotel had really grown pretty large by now and I was nervous about getting him into the car. Mariano steps out of the elevator, dressed in a beautiful suit, I introduce myself and then go out to get the limo to pull up right in front of the hotel. Unfortunately, I didn't tell Mariano to wait inside & he followed me out.......well pandemonium broke out, the fans rushed across the street and tried to mob us. the hotel security were holding them back, but Mariano told them he couldn't sign everything but he would do a few. I'm standing right at his left and after he signed three items, I put my arm out in front of him and said, "thank you but we have to leave now" I pulled his left arm, fortunately he throws right handed and put him in the back seat of the car and I jumped in the front seat. We took off and all those fans were running after us but we made it to the Marriott before them.

The photo shoot went terrific and afterwards, I escorted Mariano, in the limo, over to the baseball park, pulling right into the Players Entrance, just like I had done this before. We got his bag out, said our thank you and good byes and off we went, the limo driver and me to return to the Marriott. Little did I know, they had another surprise for me when I returned, Mariano autographed a baseball for me and they gave me his Yankee cap he used in the photo shoot. What a day, I couldn't have written a more perfect day.......well maybe, if only Derek would have been there, but he wasn't. Oh I forgot, I did see Derek in the lobby with two Yankee security guards and they put him in a cab and he was gone. It was fleeting, but exciting.

Well my Cinderella job was over, and I had to drive the Saturn (not the limo) back to the RV (not the Ritz Carlton) but what an I will treasure forever. Thank you Nancy & Tim for making it all possible....and trusting me! Much love to family and friends.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Yankee Photo Shoot - Day 1, Cleveland, OH

Tuesday, 7/5/11 - I can only tell you that these two days of the photo shoot were an amazing and very exciting experience for me. Because of the different hotels they were short on staff and Nancy volunteered ME to stay at the Ritz Carlton and wait for the Yankee player to get off the elevator, I go and introduce myself to him and escort him out to the limo that will drive him to the Marriott hotel. Now I am a nervous wreck, sure I know them when they have their uniforms with numbers on but will I recognize them in street clothes? I have roster pictures of them to help me ID them and of course they have a scheduled time they are suppose to come down. It starts at 9 am that morning and I got ALL of them but two players.....I missed them but fortunately the bell captains knew them and put them in the limo. I stayed in the hotel lobby, wearing Nancy's official MLBPA badge around my they wouldn't kick me out and the players would think I was for real. Actually, I would walk up to the player, shake their hand, introduce myself as Carole Willis, Players Association and I have your car out front, which is a 2 minute ride, to take you to your photo shoot. The players were scheduled every half hour of course some were late or no shows and I was texting and calling Nancy & limo all day.

Around lunch time I rode back with a player to have lunch (they had a wonderful selection of food for the players at the photo shoot) and actually watch a photo shoot. Pretty amazing stuff and what an elaborate set up. I returned to the Ritz Carlton and rode back with the last player for that day, Phil Hughes. I can not fully explain how exciting this day was and how much fun I had and they were said they were grateful to have me and very thankful for the job I had done. It was crazy watching the fans gather across the street (they were not allowed at the Ritz) and every time a player & I walked out they started yelling for autographs. Certainly a day I won't soon forget and I still have tomorrow to do this all over again. Much love to all family and friends.

Yankee baseball game tonight, Cleveland, OH

Monday, 7/4/11 - Happy Fourth of July America......tonight is a Yankee and Cleveland Indians baseball game at Progressive Field at 6:30 pm which is only about 6 blocks from our hotel. Now I was suppose to drive out to the campsite and pick up Will for the baseball game tonight & he was going to spend the night in Cleveland at the Marriott and I would take him back on Tuesday. However, because of the photo shoot problems I have now become a part of the "photo shoot team" and would not be able to take Will home. There were so many logistic problems and after I explained everything to Will, he did not want to be a burden on Nancy and was fine with missing the game and staying at the campsite. Nancy has assured me she will make up that missed Yankee game in New York when Will and I arrive in September.

Howard and I decide to leave Nancy alone with her work and drive down to the prison, take the tour and buy Nancy a Shawshank tee shirt. The trip is about 80 miles (one way) and as we are arriving at this awesome sight of the prison I am struck that there are only 2 bikers out front and the place is suppose to open at 11 am and it is exactly 11 am. We drive down to the gate and see the sign on the fence......CLOSED on ALL MAJOR HOLIDAYS. The biker yells out to us, "do you think the 4th of July is a major holiday?" So much for that plan and of course Howard & I agree this is just about how this whole trip has gone. So we head back, stopping at the local WalMart for items Nancy has requested. We head back to Cleveland to get ready for the baseball it possible that will be cancelled....holy moly!

Well it's not and I walk over to the baseball park at 5:30 pm to watch the Yankees take batting practice which is so fun because Nancy is always down on the field and I love to yell at her and take her picture, as any proud mama would do. Of course I'm snapping pictures of Derek and all the boys which is great fun. Finally, the game starts and we have great seats on the first base side, my favorite. Unfortunately, it was a pitching battle this evening, so little hitting and the Yankees loose but it was a great time just being at a Yankee baseball game. About the 8th inning we pulled a "Bill Willis" - which is leave before the end of the game & finish watching it back at the hotel, beating the crowd was everything to him and Nancy has stayed true to that tradition, of course it was ok with me. It did occur to me after we left we missed the fireworks but Nancy still had a lot of work to finish up and tomorrow starts the 2 day photo shoot of which I GET TO BE A PART OF, how exciting is that. Much love to all family and friends.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, OH

Saturday, 7/2/11 - I leave the campground about 9:30 am heading into Cleveland by myself as Will doesn't want to see the RNR Hall of Fame again. I arrive at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Cleveland about an hour latter and find that Nancy and Howard have not arrived, I was so excited I left to early. That's ok, I park the Saturn in the underground garage and check in to the hotel to wait for them in my glorious room with a real flush toilet.

When they arrive in the early afternoon we head over to the RNR Hall of Fame, Nancy & I have been there before but Howard has not. As suggested, we start on the top floor and work our way down. The special exhibit for this year is "Women who Rock" and it was terrific......Nancy's 2 favorites, Chrissy Hinds and Pat Benatar and my all time favorite, Janis Joplin were featured. We had tickets to see a U2 concert in 3D in one of their theaters and lasted three songs. Not that it was bad there was just to much else to see and we didn't have a lot of time.

Great exhibits on all the generations of rock music. Two bummers however, you were not allowed to take pictures of any exhibits, pictures are only allowed on the ground floor and they have the worst retail selection of any museum I have ever been to. You want to spend money but the merchandise sucks. Of course, we did manage to find a couple items................

After the museum, we head for Nancy's favorite restaurant, PF Chang's for a wonderful dinner and a real adventure getting there. I'm sure the taxi we took is no longer running as it sounded that night like it was on its last leg. Great first day in Cleveland and can't wait for day two.

Sunday, 7/2/11 - Bad news has arrived for Nancy and work team on the photo shoot (the reason she is here.) A baseball team photo shoot is always held at the same hotel the team is staying at but due to a mix up this did not happen. The Yankees were staying at the Ritz Carlton and the photo shoot was scheduled for the Marriott Hotel, where we were staying. Yikes, the logistics of working that out was an all day affair. Nancy & I were going to surprise Howard by driving him down to the Ohio prison today so he and Nancy could see were Shawshank Redemption was filmed. We had it all planned, that's why I had to hold all blog posts so Howard wouldn't know what was happening. However, with the photo shoot problems incurred the prison trip was off and Nancy was in full work mode. We just hung around the hotel and tried to keep a low profile and stay out of the way. Much love to all family and friends and I can't wait to see what the next few days bring.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Goodby Wally World & Hello Grafton, Ohio

Friday, 7/1/11 - After nine days be bid Wally World farewell today. We really had a great time and enjoyed all the people we met, the employees and campers. We would like to come back to see all the changes they will be making to Wally World in the next few years....but time will tell if we ever return this way again.

We are off to American Wilderness Campground which advertises they are the "closest campgrCheck Spellingound to Cleveland" and that's what I'm looking for as this is Nancy & Howard PLUS the NY Yankees week. To say I'm excited is an understatement, I can't wait to head into Cleveland Saturday morning. Our trip this morning was a short one as we were only about 80 miles away from Grafton. Lots of cops and radar guns out for the big holiday weekend. Of course they won't catch Will has he has it set for 55 mph and we just cruise by the coppers.

Our new park is very nice, instead of a swimming pool they have a "beach" that is a big, blue swimming hole and sandy beach. They also have a really large fishing pond and lots of events planned for adults and kids. Tonight was a hayride, and we passed on that. Tomorrow, Saturday they are having a Hawaiian Luau Pig Roast Party which I am sure Will is going to as I will be staying in Cleveland with Nancy and Howard. On Saturday we are going to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and Will did not want to go. It's his turn to guard the RV like I did in Albuquerque. Much love to all our family and friends and boy is the fun continuing.