Monday, May 8, 2017

Yet another Week (not Quite As Quiet)


When we posted last, we were enjoying Winnebago’s hospitality in Iowa.  We left there on Wednesday morning for a quick trip to Minnesota and Dakota County’s Lebanon Hills park.  They had just opened the campground for the season and were able to get us in for an extra 2 days prior to our weekend reservation.



Thursday we had lunch with the Hilmos, the fellow Nomads who also are originally from Minnesota and we have known for years, but have yet to work with them.  Our plans to volunteer together last fall in Missouri fell through when we were delayed in Duluth.  We last saw them in Texas early in November, before they left for Florida.  They have made the decision to “hang up the keys” and end their full-timing lifestyle after 17 years on the road.  We wish them well as they take on this more traditional lifestyle, and will continue to keep in contact, especially during the winter when we will be somewhere warm.



On Friday, David and Brayden came to the site next to us for the weekend.  We had a pleasant time around the campfire that evening.



On Saturday, Bob’s family held its annual reunion at a pizza parlor in Mankato.  Eleven of the 16 possible cousins were there along with quite a few spouses and children and Aunt Marion, the only surviving Dakins sister.  It was good to catch up with them, without the gathering being a wedding or funeral.



Sunday we moved to the street in front of Brett’s house for a few days.   We will catch up with him and his family, and catch some of the girls’ sports while we are here.  We are also taking the time to do tons of laundry, cleaning the motorhome, and catching up with friends. 



This weekend is Minnesota’s opening weekend of fishing season, so the highways will become choked with traffic by noon on Friday.  We will be gone before then as we expect to be parked at the lake by Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Another Quiet Week


This time in Iowa.  First came a few days in Spirit Lake, then in Forest City.  While on our way to our appointment at Winnebago’s Factory Service, the Great Lakes of Iowa called out for a pleasant stop.  Northern Iowa only has a few good-sized lakes, but Okoboji and Spirit are two of the largest and are close to each other.  This area is known, locally, for fishing and boating and a lot of vacationing in the summer, but is very quiet this time of year.



We have been catching up on a lot of reading while also catching up to winter weather.  We are just now starting to see the sun for the first time in over a week, and heavy coats are finally being replaced with lighter jackets.



While in Sioux Falls last week, we spent some time at a Barnes and Noble store, getting ideas for future reading.  One that caught Bob’s attention was “38 Nooses”, subtitled “Lincoln, Little Crow, and the beginning of the Frontier’s End”.  It is a history book dealing with the Sioux Uprising that took place in southern Minnesota during the Civil War.  It ended with the largest mass execution in US history with 38 Indians being hung in Mankato Minnesota at the same time.  Abraham Lincoln personally decided to spare the lives of an additional 265 condemned prisoners.  We now have an electronic copy of this book.



Before leaving Spirit Lake, we found a historical marker at site of the Spirit Lake Massacre Monument in nearby Arnolds Park.  This monument opened as one of Iowas’s first tourist attractions and marks the location of an earlier Indian uprising.  Here 36 settlers were initially slain and 4 prisoners taken captive (only 2 survived).  More history can be found at http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/20626

   

 
We arrived in Forest City on Saturday for our Monday appointment.  Their customer lounge is a spacious and comfortable to wait while repairs are being done.  Pets are also welcome and we met Marley, who loves to be petted by everyone.  He waits on his back until the next person comes to pet him.


        
A couple of minor repairs were taken care of by Tuesday morning and we are ready to leave.  But first we have to get to Mitchel’s Bar and Grill for their Tuesday night, all-you-can-eat chicken and ribs.  This is a regular stop for us whenever we are near the Winnebago plant.  We are going there with Marley’s owners soon.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Pleasant Time in Sioux Falls


We have spent a whole week seeing the sights of Sioux Falls, beginning with the river and waterfalls that give the town its name.

           



We have also wandered around downtown and tried a couple of local restaurants, including Bob’s BBQ which was a really good little hole in the wall.

 

Normally, our mail is collected here and forwarded to us twice per month, but this week we picked it up in person at Dakota Post’s new offices.



We have also seen a number of current movies, one in a sit-down theater (Beauty and the Beast) and two others on our home theater (Sully and La La Land).



It was a relaxing week there and now the relaxation continues as we move east.  We have plenty of time to take state highways slow and easy.  We are now in Iowa’s “Great Lakes” area, a major tourist area in the summer near Spirit Lake and Lake Okoboji.  It is not crowded at this time of year, but we can see how it will be busy later.  We took a ride around the lake and saw some huge, beautiful homes.  It was a real surprise to see how popular this area is.



We are heading slowly toward the Winnebago plant in Forest City IA for a quick fix or two next week.  When done there, we will continue north to see the kids and grandkids in the Minneapolis area for a few days, and try to get to Joyce’s place in Duluth before the opening of fishing season on May 13.



The local weather forecasts are now including some frost warnings.  Are we coming north too soon?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

In Sioux Falls for Awhile


After a week volunteering at Oak Park Retreat Center we continued our trip north, following the pollen and dandelions as spring led the way.  From Perkins, Oklahoma to Bob’s sister’s farm in southern Nebraska, it is an easy 2-day drive.  Friday, the 14th, we had a very strong tailwind that blew us north into Kansas.  We stopped for the night at a Corps of Engineers park on the Marion Reservoir near Marion, Kansas.  The only problem is that the wind didn’t stop, but kept on blowing at 30 to 40 mph all night long; so intense that we kept our living room slides in all night.



Saturday the wind was not as strong, but continued from the south and helped us roll into Nebraska.  When we stopped here last year the weather was very stormy, but this year was quite nice.  We attended Easter services with Bill and Mary and had Sunday dinner with them as well. 



After a pleasant Monday of laundry and shopping with Mary, we hit the road again, this time to Sioux Falls.  This city is officially our legal home, so we plan to spend some time here and get to know it better.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Art Deco


Our wandering around northern Oklahoma brought us to Tulsa where the tourism brochure suggested seeing a church on South Boston Avenue near downtown.  The Methodist church here was built in 1929 in the Art Deco style and is quite unique.  So much so that has also been designated to be a National Historic Landmark.


Some details can be found at  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Avenue_Methodist_Church



We found it on Saturday and chose to attend services there on Sunday.  It is quite a building, but a choir of about 50 youth was even more impressive.
          

Now, after a whole week off, we found the possibility of boredom setting in, so we have gone back to work.  The Oak Park Retreat center in Perkins Oklahoma had been slowly going to pieces for many years, until a new owner (a local Methodist Church) bought it about this time last year.  They had a group of Nomads work here last fall, and some of them told us that Oak Park will have lots of work available for quite some time.  We contacted the minister and asked if they could use some help for 4 days this week.  He was very excited to have the offer of help.  We are doing our first “Drop In” project here this week. 

We met with Larry, who is our contact at the retreat center, on Sunday.  He asked us to unpack 250 new folding chairs and paint some of the rooms at the center during our 4 days here.  Their rooms look a lot like hotel rooms with a bedroom and bathroom/shower.  We’ve been able to do one room & bath per day with a goal of getting 4 rooms done. 
They are very grateful and we’re so grateful we can help out.  Pastor Max had us over for dinner on Monday night and then took us out for lunch on Wednesday.  We’ll be able to attend his church for Maunday Thursday services which we’re looking forward to.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Getting our Kicks on Route 66


We are taking that time off mentioned a couple of days ago, just not where we had in mind.  The first Corps of Engineers campground that we had planned didn’t work out.  It was too remote and provided neither TV nor cell phone/internet service so we didn’t check in.  Instead we took a round-about route to stop for 3 nights in Eufaula.  Tuesday we moved again, a little farther north, to Big Cabin which is a small town near what was Route 66.

Although old US Route 66 went from Chicago to Los Angeles, it seems that Arizona and Oklahoma do the most for tourists to help remember it.  We have toured parts of it in California, Arizona and New Mexico in the past.  Today we went to Miami Oklahoma, in the very corner of the state, to see Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger shop.
This was part of a fast-food chain in the 1960’s and is still operating today.  While in town we also spent some time at a couple of other tourist places: the Coleman Theater and the Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum.

On our way back to Big Cabin we also saw the restored 1930’s vintage DX service station in Afton.

Later this week we will see a few other tourist attractions near here before doing some shopping in Tulsa. 

In the meantime we are now watching CBS for the FIRST time all year!  We have been in a number of small towns in both Texas and Oklahoma where there were either NO or very limited TV signals.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Done at Elmore City


Oklahoma is a tough place to live.  We know it is located in “Tornado Alley” but they also have floods, ice storms, and wildfires that can all do a lot of damage.  They have so many of these natural disasters, and so frequently, that the residents have created a lot of helpful organizations to assist their neighbors. 



In our previous posting, we mentioned some of the flooding here last summer.  Some more details can be seen at https://weather.com/news/news/flooding-severe-weather-plains-midwest-mid-june-2016-impacts



The statewide conference of Methodist churches has their own disaster support group (see http://oklahomaunitedmethodistchurchdisasterresponse.org/ ) complete with their own fulltime staff, trucks, and trailers to work with the local area victims and to keep us volunteers supplied with some tools and most materials.  They have been working in a number of towns near here since the flooding happened, and the Nomads have been here since mid-February.  Our team was made up of couples from Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, as well as Oklahoma, most of whom we had not worked with in the past.  Our family of friends continues to grow.  We completed the last 2 homes in the town of Mayville.  Our team leaders, Dennis and Nancy, have their own blog and posted a lot of pictures of the work we’ve accomplished (see http://dennisandnanccy.blogspot.com/ ).  Beginning next week, the Nomads will be parking at the county fairgrounds in Lawton and continue working there for another 5 weeks.



We will not be going to Lawton.  Instead we are going to take some time off to rest and recuperate.  While on Nomads projects, we work hard.  The last 2 days of this project, both of us spent most of the time on our hands and knees, laying carpeting.  After working projects since November, we welcome some time off!  We have scheduled a couple of weeks at different Corps of Engineers campgrounds, still in Oklahoma.  We will move slowly northward, following the pollen and dandelions.