Sunday, October 29, 2006


Poplar Bluff, Missouri: Tomorrow is the 34th birthday of our youngest son, Lance, and I want to wish him the happiest birthday ever. Lance, I don't think you have the slightest idea how much I love you. I wish I would have known you the first five years of your life. When you came to us at age five, you were the cutest little guy I've ever seen, and now you are a very handsome man, but I didn't get to see you as a baby. I feel I've missed out on so much. When did you sleep through the night? What was your first word? Were you a cuddly little baby? What were your favorite baby foods? Did you have a favorite stuffed animal? I don't know any of those things. I only know that when you and your brother walked up our sidewalk that day, you walked straight into my heart.

I don't think I've ever told you this before, but when I was in college I had my whole life planned out. I was going to have 6 kids. 3 boys and 3 girls. Well, it didn't work out quite that way as it seemed after the first daughter and two sons that we would have to settle for 3 kids. Then we looked into foster care, and eventually adoption, and ended up with 7 kids, 2 girls and 5 boys, a bit different from the original plan. And I had even named all 6 of those kids I was ideally going to have. Well, things ended up quite differently in that area too, all except for one name. Have I ever told you that way back in college I wanted a son named Lance? It was in God's plan all along that you would become my son!

Through the years you have grown from the little guy with bushy hair and no front teeth, into the wonderful man you are today. We've had our ups and downs, and life hasn't been easy for you at times, but you have become stronger because of the trials. If I had to come up with one adjective to describe you it would be "gentle" man. You are a gentleman in all senses of the word. You married a wonderful girl that we are so proud to have in our family, and the two of you have two precious daughters. When I see you with the girls, I see that "gentle" man I speak of. The kindness, love and respect you treat me and dad with can only come from a gentle man. And not just show that same kindness and respect to grandma, your aunts and uncles, and all your elders.

I am so proud of you! Proud of the love and devotion you show your family, proud of your dedication to your job, proud of your love for the outdoors and God's awesme creation, proud of your determination to be the best you can be, proud of your talents, and proud of your gentleness. I am proud to call you son, my gentle son.

Here's hoping that tomorrow dawns bright, sunny and warm, and that you will get a chance to play outdoors with the girls and your dog, and maybe get in a little hunting! Dad and I will celebrate you. We love you dearly.


POPLAR BLUFF, MISSOURI: We finally found another campground with wireless. The last five campgrounds have been beautiful Arkansas State Parks, but State Parks don't offer wireless connections. Maybe someday they will but now they don't. We much prefer staying in State Parks or National Parks or Forests, especially when there are great hiking trails and beautiful autumn colors to enjoy, but sometimes we need to connect with the world, and at those times we need to find a private campground with connections.

I wanted to show you some of the great scenery from our hike last Sunday but the only other time I've connected this week I haven't been able to post pictures. We'll give it another try. What do you know? It worked!

This was in Woolly Hollow State Park, Arkansas, a very beautiful place. There was a trail, about three and a half miles, that we took through the woods, up the hills, along the ridge, then back down to the campground. It was late afternoon, and the sun shining through the autumn colors made it seem like we were walking through a holy place. The first picture, expecially, reminded me of a beautiful cathedral and I silently prayed for my kids, grandkids, family and friends as I walked along. The most awesome thing about this retirement trip is seeing God's magnificent creation. There is no way this beauty is the result of a "big bang."

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Walnut Ridge, Arkansas (Lake Charles State Park): It's been raining for the past two days which makes for a miserable campsite. The ground is covered with piles of beautiful leaves that stick to your feet when they are wet. The hiking trails become more like rivers, full of rocks and wet slippery mud. So, we either sit inside the RV or run into the nearest town to check on wireless access. Found a library here in this little town that has several computers for the public to use. However, they have a couple of rules: no chatting, which I don't do so that didn't bother me. But the other rule is: NO EMAIL! I don't get that at all. What are the computers for then? Playing games, I guess. So on the remote chance that they had wireless, I asked. And, yes, they are wireless, and yes we can do email on our own computers! I'm down to 50% power though, so will make this short.

We stayed for two days in a beautiful little park near Conway, Arkansas. The park was Wooley Hollow State Park, and is one of the most beautiful parks we've seen yet. There were only a few other campers because we came in on a Sunday, so we had the place mostly to ourselves. We hiked a beautiful trail that went up and over a couple of ridges. On the second ridge I checked my phone, which back at the campsite had no bars, and on the top of this ridge I had five bars! So, I told Ernie to continue on the last mile without me and I'd follow later because I was going to call the kids we hadn't talked to recently. Caught the oldest son at home, just returning from a hunting trip with his two sons, so we had a nice visit. I talked to our second oldest son who was watching the Vikiings and getting ready to go to work. I also talked to his better half for a few minutes and caught up on their comings and goings, which includes installing the hot tub he won! Then I called the next son in Alaska, but only got his voice mail, so I left a message. He called back almost immediately and we had a good chat, me on a hiking trail in Arkansas, and him in the shop he's building on the hillside in Seldovia, Alaska. Technology amazes me! I had already talked to my mom and our two daughters and the next to youngest son, so that left only the youngest son that we hadn't connected with. Tried that number, but got no answer, but we will be calling him this weekend for his 34th birthday. I left that ridge top feeling so much better. Just connecting with the kids back home, and hearing what the grandkids are up to makes me so happy. Thank goodness for a good cell plan.

Once again Blogger won't let me post pictures. I had a couple of really nice ones from our hike that I wanted to show you but something is blocking my pictures from posting. Maybe it's the limited power I have left.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Mountain View, Arkansas: Two out of the last four days have been heavy rain so some of the beautiful leaves have been beaten down. However, the rain also cleaned and polished the leaves so that we could enjoy the brilliant display on Wednesday, our 42nd anniversary, and on Thursday, Kari and Mike's 22nd anniversary. Wednesday night we stayed in Mountain View, Missouri, and last night we stayed in Mountain View, Arkansas. I think we are going to enjoy our couple of days here in Mountain View, which is the Folk Music Capitol of the World. This little place has a town square where every night, depending on weather, musicians from all over meet and make music. It was raining last night so I suppose they didn't meet outside. It's beautiful sunshine today so I expect we will be at the town square tonight for the music. This campground has a building just for musicians to meet every day at 2:00 to play their folk and bluegrass but we were gone at that time yesterday so didn't get to hear them. The downtown streets around the square have a variety of little shops, many of them shops carrying assorted musical instruments like austic guitars, mandolins, banjos, fiddles, and dulcimers. Music is a huge part of the lives of these folks.

We have a big day scheduled today. First we are going to The Skillet for breakfast so hubby can have his biscuits and gravy. Then we will buy our tickets for the Folk Center itself that is a living history enactment. We will watch traditional artisans create hand-made goods, and will have the opportunity to purchase these heirloom quality items. Sounds like fun to me, although an RV doesn't have much room for many purchases. Then tonight we will go to the theatre to see a show of mountain music played by Southern mountain musicians, in the auditorium that seats 1000! I am also looking forward to visiting the Heritage Herb Gardens to learn more about using fresh herbs in cooking.

I'm going to post a few pictures from the last couple of days. Keep in mind that yesterday was pouring rain so pictures don't begin to show the brilliant display of fall colors. (I was going to post a couple of pictures but the signal is very low and it's taking many minutes to get a picture to show up, so I'll just try to publish this post with one picture and will do others later. I can't complain because at least this campground has wireless!)

Monday, October 16, 2006


Salem, Missouri: It was a quiet weekend at the campground in spite of many new campers coming in on Friday night for a weekend of fishing. The family next to us had three little guys, probably 2, 3, and 4. Each of them had along a bike or little trike to ride out on the street in front of their site. They all had on sweat shirts and long pants, and two of the three had on shoes. The middle sized kid was barefoot but didn't seem to mind the cold at all, and he kept on going until after dark. Yesterday was nice and sunny, and we just lounged around the campground all day, doing a little reading and watching the history channel for awhile. Around five hubby got out the lawn chairs, built a nice fire, and he had a beer and I had a glass of wine while we sat close to the warmth of the fire. I had made chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles, thanks to a little shop along the roadway run by some Amish type of sect, so our supper was bubbling away in the crockpot.

We awakened about 5 this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. Finally. This part of Missouri is really dry, and they have been waiting for some rain for a long time. The rain seems to have knocked off a lot of leaves from the trees, as the drive into town showed more bare limbs than we've seen before. The colors of the trees are still beautiful though, just like the trees back home in Minnesota at this time of the year.

The plan now is to leave on Wednesday when our mail should be here for sure! We'll head down highway 19 through the rest of Missouri, then visit a couple of places in Arkansas. After that we'll head to Kentucky then up into Indiana as our appointment in Middlebury on the 13th of November gets closer. Hubby's latest idea is to head straight south when we leave the factory. He is thinking we should park at Tindall AFB in Florida, in the panhandle along the gulf. We'd then store the RV there and drive back to Minnesota for Christmas when that time comes. Not my choice, but guess I'll go where he says. The one good thing is that we have dear friends in Florida that we could visit. Will give you more information as it becomes fact.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Salem, Missouri: You know you're in Missouri when your goat gets stuck up on the rafters of the shed!


Salem, Missouri: You know that mail we've been waiting for? It seems the person (who shall remain nameless) that requested our next mail drop made a big mistake. First of all, he filled out the form incorrectly so the mail forwarding people thought he wanted the mail sent UPS, which they can't do without a street address. General Delivery mail can't be sent that way. The company did respond saying they needed a street address and extra money to send it what way, but someone didn't read the return email telling him this. When he did finally check back and cleared this all up, he found out that the mail that we expected this past Tuesday will now be mailed next Monday. We are becoming permanent residents of the Park campground. Oh well, it's a very pretty place as you can see from these pictures taken of the trees and hills surrounding the campsite. I guess we don't have any deadlines to meet anyhow, so what's another day or four or five!


Salem, Missouri: Last week on the day that we visited the new Lincoln Museum, we also visited his tomb. The monument and tomb are very beautiful, and a peaceful and dignified air surrounds the whole site. As I walked through the quiet marble hall leading into the building housing the tomb, I could have sworn I heard The Battle Hymn of the Republic playing over and over in my head, even though it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. As I exited the room my footsteps were keeping time with the refrain "glory, glory halelujah." It was really quite an emotional day.


Salem, Missouri: Well, here we are, on our own computers for a change. We were at the library this morning, but we have to use their computers there. Now we found out that we can go to the Armory, bring in our own computers, and connect to their unsecured wireless connection. Yay! So here are some pictures of our last week.

This first picture was taken the day we visited the Lincoln's at the White House. Ernie was not dressed for the occasion, but they didn't seem to mind. The new Lincoln Museum in Springfield Illinois is wonderful! There is a log cabin built like the boyhood home of Lincoln, set in a grove of trees just like it would have been. They even had the sound of birds singing up in the trees. Across this huge room stood a replica of the White House, with Mrs. Lincoln dressed in a beautiful ball gown, standing inside the front door with arms outstretched, welcoming you into their home. The Lincoln family that is pictured here, is standing about in the center of the large room that branches off into the cabin, the White House, and two theaters. Inside the White House wing were very interesting exhibits on several different subjects. My favorite was the section on the Civil War. There was a huge map of the battle areas on the wall, with the borders of the current battles changing constantly to indicate how the war spread to the many areas of the south. In the bottom corner was a running total of the number of dead on both the North and South sides. It was a display like FOX News would have telecast had the technology been available 150 years ago. I found it fascinating. The other area I thought was interesting was the section showing the political cartoons of the day. Making fun of our President is nothing new, I found out, as there were hundreds of copies of the posters, newspapers, and bulletins, all ridiculing Mr. Lincoln. Some of them were very nasty, and I ached for him and his family, especially knowing what was going to happen in the near future.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Salem, Missouri: Good morning. We are still sitting outside of Salem, waiting for our mail that we requested to be mailed to the post office here. We drove in again from the State Park where we are staying, and found that it hadn't arrived yet this morning. It had best be here tomorrow! We were also in town yesterday checking on mail, getting haircuts, and doing some grocery shopping. We also make phone calls when we are here because we have no signal at the State Park which is down in a valley by a river surrounded by lots of hills. We usually try to check with one person back home each time we are in town. (Good thing I was talking about phones because I just remembered that I hadn't turned off the ringer! Not good to have a phone go off in the public library.)

I have so many pictures I wanted to share with you all, but when I can't use my own computer I can't post them. We have visited a lot of places in the past week: Lincoln's tomb and museum, Mark Twain's boyhood home, two beautiful caves, and many narrow winding roads lined with trees dressed in their glorious fall colors. As soon as we get someplace a bit more technology savey, where we can use our own computers, I will post some of those pictures and tell you a bit more about those places. As for now, we'll just enjoy this beautiful, peaceful part of the country.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Salem, Missouri: Good Morning relatives and friends. This is just a short note to say that I haven't dropped off the face of the earth, but that we are in the Ozarks and have very limited computer access. Haven't been able to find wireless access anywhere, so we stopped by the local library and find we will be charged $5 apiece for time on their computers. We also haven't had cell signals, and just this morning heard a 36 hour old message from our daughter telling us about a situation back home. This is when I feel we should chuck this whole idea and go back home and be there to help out in times of need. Are we being selfish by traveling when we could be helping out grandkids when they need us?

I'm not going to stay online long because of the $$$ so I'll not tell you what we've been doing the past 6 days. I will keep a journal to copy to this blog when we get friendlier access.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS: Today was another beautiful drive through the countryside. We prefer the narrow, winding, country roads over the boring super highways filled with 18 wheelers racing from one state to another. In the past three days we've driven through the small river towns with main streets lined with oak and maple trees. This morning we exchanged the colorful trees for golden brown stalks of corn and rusty amber fields of soybeans. The countryside was still hilly, and the roads still wound around, but it was definitely farm country rather than river towns. Then this afternoon we came to New Salem, the reconstructed village where Abraham Lincoln spent his young adulthood. In fact, the six years (1831-1837) that Lincoln spent there almost completely encompasses the town's brief history. There is one original building, the others are reconstructed from descriptions and drawings from citizens who lived there at the time. The first step toward reconstruction was taken in 1906 when newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst purchased the site. Work began in 1917 but it wasn't until the 1930's when the Civilian Conservation Corps continued and finished the project. Apparently this is a living history site, and there are hundreds of volunteers who are usually "living" and "working" in the log homes, workshops, and other buildings. But wouldn't you know, they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays! We were still able to walk through the village but all the buildings were locked so we couldn't go inside.

We are in another campground tonight....two nights in a row! The weather was terribly hot today, in the 90's, which is way too warm for me, and there are storms forecast for tonight. We plan to go to all the Lincoln sites in Springfield tomorrow, including the new Lincoln Museum. It should be another interesting day.

The first picture is taken by the village of New Salem. I love the split rail fence. The picture below is a reconstruction of Lincoln's store, which was his attempt at being a businessman, a venture that failed. When Lincoln came to the village in 1831, he had no definite objectives, but while he was there he taught himself law and became a lawyer and a statesman.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Knoxville, IL: I'm sure you are all waiting to hear if we are in a Wal-Mart parking lot again tonight. Well, I'm happy to say we are in a honest to goodness Good Sam campground. And we are able to find a strong wireless signal so we've been able to check and write email. Life is good!

This morning we went to the historic town of Galena, Illinois. Already in the 1830's Galena was a center for mining, smelting, and steamboating. By 1850 it had become one of the busiest Mississippi River ports, but when the railroad came in 1854 the city declined and became a quiet, backwater town. During the Civil War, Galena gave the Union Army 9 generals, including U. S. Grant who later became the 18th President of the United States. Today, the town has been rediscovered and restored, and is a charming town that time forgot, filled with speciality shops, historic sites and attractions, and fine dining. It seems to be a destination for women and motorcyclists! The town was filled with women shoppers and bikers that road back and forth on the streets.

We parked our truck and inquired about the red and green trolly car sitting in front of the information center. Ten dollars a person? I don't think so. We walked. When we got to the main street of town, we began our shopping spree. I saw a 6 foot tall camel with a jeweled blanket thrown over his hump, and wearing red tennis shoes. I didn't see a price and didn't ask and didn't buy. Next I saw a lovely sage green, fleece, full length coat with that squiggly yarn decorating the collar and sleeves. It was $475, and it is still hanging in the shop. Inside the next shop I saw a candle ring made up of ceramic pigs holding hands. $129. Nope, don't need that! Across the street was a three story shop full of furniture and home decorating items. I spied a unique tin wall hanging, about 4 foot square, seemingly made out of old tin ceilings. The price tag was tucked behind the frame, and I can see why! It read $4,000! Up on the third floor of the shop I found a white, bent twig chair, proudly proclaiming its $795 price on a large tag.

We stopped at a small cafe for lunch and then continued our walk through town, arriving back at our starting point at 1:17. I looked at the time we had punched the parking ticket and it read 11 o'clock. So our shopping trip was a bit over two hours, including the walk to and fro, and the time for lunch. Total money spent? Hubby bought lunch and I sprung for the $3.00 parking fee.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Dubuque, Iowa: Would you believe that we are in a Wal-Mart parking lot again tonight? We stopped for lunch awhile back up the road, and hubby started checking the tires to see if anything had changed on our first day and a half. Seems he thinks one of the RV tires has become more bald on the inside. (This is part of the problem we need to have fixed in Indiana.) So we stopped early and he is trying to find a dealer in the area to see if we should have the tire changed now or if it's okay to wait and just keep an eye on it.

At least he did take me to a coffee shop this time, and I had a refreshing iced Chai tea. It was very good. We are going to walk a bit through the old part of this city. Some of the beautiful older homes (riverboat big wigs maybe?) have been turned into shops, this coffee spot being one of them. Next door is one of those good smelling places that carry candles, lotions, and potions to make you and your home smell good. There is a funky clothing exchange shop next door, and a yuppie baby store around the corner.

The drive down was very beautiful. It was a roller coaster type of road with lots of ups and downs and many curves and zig zags. We did go through one town that I'd love to see in another week or ten days. It was a small town that I don't even know the name of, but it had maple trees planted very 20 feet or so, all down both sides of the one and only street that was maybe 8 blocks long. The trees were just beginning to change into their fall costumes, some golden, some orangy, some scarlet, and some a deep rust. Oh, it's going to be pretty! The river, when it was in view, was covered with fishing boats and duck blinds, and the traffic consisted mostly of pickups with trailer behind them.

No plans for the evening, but I think I'll check out a book that my friend Lisa loaned me. The only thing this Wal-Mart lot has going for it is that we are a long way away from the highway! Last night was a long, sleepless night, and I'm hoping for needed rest tonight.