Friday, June 22, 2018


And next? We're thinking Wisconsin.

Wisconsin it was! A very nice ride thru Iowa via Dubuque all off Interstates was rudely interrupted by the new tire pressure monitor (TPMS) going off warning that the left front tire had suddenly dropped to 29psi.

It didn't feel like the tire was down, the steering felt normal and the coach wasn't down on that side. Luckily we were just coming up to the Wisconsin State Line and stopped at the Tourist Information to investigate. I got out my tire pressure gauge and it confirmed my suspicion that the tire was fine. I had a spare battery for the sensor and when I replaced the old one it instantly stopped alarming and showed the same as the other from tire. If I ever bought another TPMS it wouldn't be made by Tire Minder! It's been a pain in the butt ever since we bought it.

Barbara's bear behind shot at the Ho-Chunk Casino
Barbara started getting a sore throat. Soon after that she started sneezing then coughing. It rapidly became a hacking cough. Luckily we only had 150 miles to go for the day and found a very nice Good Sam park in Baraboo WI at the Ho-Chunk Casino. We decided to stay 6 nights to let her get over the cold and to explore the Wisconsin Dells area.
Ringling Brothers Circus Museum
After a couple of days she started to feel better and we started looking around. Just down the road we found “Circus World”. Who knew that Ringling Brothers were from Baraboo? I mean to say, who even knows where Baraboo is!! They started the circus and came here each winter to work on new acts, train the animals, repair the equipment ready for the next season. Now it's a museum with circus memorabilia and vehicles from all around the world. Much of it is from the UK and it was great to be reminded of the circus shows we saw as kids in the 50's and 60's.

24 carat gold leaf covered wagon

At the circus, riding a 25' tall unicycle!!

All the fun of the circus.
We noticed there was an Elks Lodge in Baraboo but when we got there we discovered 2 more things. 1 - It was only open Wednesday thru Friday (And it was Saturday). 2 - The lodge was originally the Al Ringling mansion and was open for tours. 

The tour lasted an hour and was fascinating because the house was in the process of restoration after serving for 75 years as the main lodge. The Elks had saved the structure from demolition and hadn't destroyed the interior. They have recently sold the mansion to a young couple who are restoring it and have discovering amazing stuff like a 24 carat gold leafed ceilings hidden by modern drop ceilings in the ballroom!

The Al Ringling Mansion, now the Elks Lodge

Beautiful interior under restoration.
After 6 nights we decided to move on. Barbara was feeling much better and with a cruise on the Upper Dells we had seen all we needed to see. In another of those coincidences we've had lately, the sister of our old neighbors in San Diego (Jason and Ruby) saw our post on Facebook about the cruise on the Dells.
Sheri and her husband David live an hour or so from the Dells.

Wisconsin Dells tour boat.

The Wisconsin River

The Dells get their name from the French word for Layers, from the layered rock formations

Can you see all the faces that I see??

We exchanged messages and Barbara and I drove to Janesville where they live and where the Elks have a camping spot. When Sheri called us and asked where we were in Wisconsin she couldn't believe we were in Janesville. We made arrangements to have dinner at a local bar the next evening.

We needed to go shopping and we'd seen a supermarket called Festival on the way into town. We pulled into the parking lot, as we walked into the store we noticed a HUGE liquor store that was part of the market but separate from it. As we explored the beer section the door to the big walk in cooler opened and out walked Sheri!! She was so surprised she couldn't speak. Later on over dinner we devised another surprise for her brother Jason. We called him from my phone but when he answered Sheri started talking! It was hilarious, We had a great night together catching up on their news and the farm they have bought and started renovating.
Barbara, me and Sheri in the liquor store. SURPRISE!
On another side of our trip, the plan was to go to the Upper Peninsular (UP) of Michigan and some friends from Casa Grande where going to be there and had invited us camp on their property. We had experienced quite a lot of thunder and heavy rain in Wisconsin but up there they had a huge flood that washed away over 20 roads and destroyed many homes. We decided that maybe the UP could wait for a month or so and we'd better make plans for July 4th which is always a busy time in campgrounds. After some research and several phone calls we found a place in Sturgeon Bay for 10 days.
Me, David, Sheri and Barbara out for dinner.
One last night at the Elks with Sheri (where we hilariously won a local knowledge quiz even though we've never been here before!) and off we go again.

Monday, June 11, 2018

St Louis and north.

We decided to stay a couple of days after the rally so we can explore Sedalia and see the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival and the Truck and Tractor Pulling. Should be more fun.
Several artist were performing live Scott Joplin recitals in the street.
The Scott Joplin Festival was fun, and Sedalia was a very interesting place with all the old buildings preserved so well. There were 6 of us from Chapter 25 Marty, Peggy, Rey, Loretta, Barbara and I after the majority rally goers left, we went to the local Mexican restaurant for a very enjoyable meal. That and a few drinks made me sleepy enough we didn't bother with the tractor pull. We watched a DVD then settled in for an early night.
Nice well preserved building downtown Sedalia

Very atmospheric
After a week in one place the old “Hitch Itch” was getting bad and we happily drove to Kansas City to see the National World War 1 Museum. The Blue Springs Elks welcomed us warmly to their excellent lodge and camping area. 
Elks camping.
Funnily enough we pulled in and another rig pulled in seconds later. They were the couple who had been parked directly across from us at the Rally! That started a chain of coincidence. 
L to R Me, Barbara, Jeanette and John
One of the Lodge members introduced us to John who's wife Jeanette was from our home town in UK! The next night she came to the lodge and we all talked for hours about home, they in turn introduced us to another John who as a Marine was attached to the US Embassy in London and met a girl who was also from our area. He told us he'd been to visit her family in Upton. We all laughed when we told him that our daughter is the mailman for Upton.
The World War 1 Museum is under the Liberty Tower

Truman Presidential Library

Looking at the garden where the Trumans' are buried
We walked for hours during our stay, finding more and more amazing places. The World War 1 museum took 5 hours and I'm not sue we saw everything. Then the Harry S Truman Presidential Library and home the next day was 6 hours. Finally the Steamboat Arabia Museum which took a meager 2 hours!!
The Arabia sank with a complete load of supplies for the frontier towns

Everything from Boots to Bullets and more

The old Courthouse Dome scene of the Dred Scott trial.
Our friends from our very first days of full timing Scott and Suzanne called, they were staying with their daughter 50 miles away and we all had dinner at the lodge. Our new friends John and Jeanette were there too and a good time was had by all.

We finally managed to drag ourselves away and next morning headed for St Louis to see the Arch. Unusually we decided to just get on I70 and head straight there, so it was just another amazing coincidence when an RV went the other way towing a jeep just like John and Debbies! Barbara grabbed for her phone and it rang before she even dialed the number. It was Debbie asking of we were going east on I70!!
Rainy day at the "Arch" St Louis

A dull rainy look down at the city from the top of the arch.
St Louis was OK, the arch was good even if the weather wasn't, hot and rainy doesn't make us happy. I'm not sure why we keep coming back to cities like this, we don't like the traffic and searching for parking spaces. We haven't got out of “Tourist Mode” even after 3 years!!

Davenport Iowa was next simply because it was about 200 miles from St Louis heading North. We found a nice route up Illinois 67, very little traffic and 4 lanes for many miles. Lots to see, with some awesome old farms and barns.
If you've seen the show you know what this place is.

I love the motorcycles.
It's construction season in Illinois and it's hard to understand why they have to close of sections of road completely instead of going from 4 lanes to 2. It seemed everywhere we went a road was closed and we got diverted. They are building a new bridge over the Mississippi too and that's got to be nightmare in rush hour.
Casino camping on the banks of the Mississippi
We stayed at the Isle Casino 2 nights for free and got 2 breakfast buffets for $5 total using the 50+ offer and the free point we got when we joined their “Player Club”.
The National Motorcycle Museum

Evel Kdowning
Side trips to “Antique Archaeology” and The National Motorcycle Museum were worth while we thought.
More gorgeous motorcycles

I want to paint some of these pretty bikes.
And next? We're thinking Wisconsin.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sedalia and the Escapades RV Rally

Also luckily we posted on Facebook that we were in the area and our good friends Marty and Peggy sent us a message that they were in the area too so we went stayed an extra night and caught up on their news.
The famous Big Chicken in Branson
Friends were popping up all over as we got closer to Sedalia and the Rally. After a very pleasant couple of days at the Joplin Elks Lodge with a side trip to the Springfield Bass Pro museum and store we headed South to Branson and pulled in to the Turkey Creek SKP RV Park about 10 minutes after John and Debbie. We took them completely by surprise. The 4 of us wandered around Branson and caught up on each others news, then up popped Larry and Marilyn from our Florida chapter 57 at the Sunday Ice Cream Social.
Paddle Wheeler tours
While we were doing laundry the next day in walked Lynn and Becky who we last saw in Florida. To top it all on Wednesday we got a message from Peter and Donna Ward who adopted us into the Florida chapter 2 years ago! And we have some BBQ sauce for them that they can only get in Arizona.
They named it after us!
It's fun here in Branson it should be a riot once we get to the Rally and meet all the rest of the crowd! We found an “English Village” around the corner from the campground with a street called Downing Street and a Craft Beer pub called the Downing Pour House!

The Prime Minister wasn't home.
After a night in another Elks Lodge just 30 miles from the Missouri State Fairgrounds where the Escapades Rally was being held we drove to the rally campground in heavy rain. That quit after a couple of hours but the ground was really soft and several rigs sank in as they parked. Luckily not us!
The RV's roll into Sedalia
Just walking in to registration had us meeting Marty and Peggy who were manning the desk. Pretty soon we saw Rey and Lorreta then Carol and Matt, John and Debbie, almost the whole of Chapter 57 from Florida. 

Our camping spot was right on a corner where everyone walked by. We looked on Facebook and Nancy and Art were back to back with our rig.
Marty and Peggy doing registration
Parties started breaking out, the RV dealer show had a happy hour each evening then there were chapter parties. Entertainment every evening, seminars, I taught 2 painting classes, I had 3 entries in the photo contest and one of them got 3rd place! We even ended up running the Photo Contest registration for a couple of hours too so with the time we spent running the “Row” booth and teaching painting we qualified for tickets in the volunteers prize drawing. 
Us running the Chapter 25 booth on the "Row"
Our luck ran true to form and we didn't win anything.
A full painting class

Nancy loves my classes!

First class


Closing ceremonies were followed by a street party with a very loud band, food vendors, a beer and a wine vendor, and the finale for the whole week was a firework display.
The Chapter 57 crowd fill out campsite
Our "Adopted Family" 

Serious partyers
The chili cookoff
We decided to stay a couple of days after the rally so we can explore Sedalia, see the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival and the Truck and Tractor Pulling. Should be more fun.