South Dakota to Minnesota

We left Oacoma Saturday June 3 and stopped at the Chamberlain Information Center just across the Missouri River. A picturesque stop with great views, and an incredible sculpture of Sacajawea with her back to the Missouri River.

We still had some mud and road grime on our unit, so opted to swing into the Sioux Falls Blue Beacon truck wash before finding our overnight stop at the Louise Avenue Walmart. However, the Walmart sprinklers came on during the night and totally spotted the left side of our truck and trailer with ugly water spots.

Susan and Roland came by our Walmart digs Saturday afternoon  and gave us a bit of tour around Sioux Falls, including “the Falls” and a few breweries. Then took us to Dinner (they actually call it supper….dinner is lunch) at Jacky’s, a favorite Mexican fare eatery, Guatemalan really, but much the same. Susan and Roland are friends we spent time with at Twin Palms RV Park in Mesa. Thank you Susan and Roland for a great time.

We’re getting spoiled. Sunday morning Fay and Ken Fisher came by and to get us, then took us to Abiding Savior Free Lutheran church for a wonderful morning of worship and fellowship. We knew Fay years ago when we lived in Tooele, Utah and her adult boys were pre-elementary. Her son Sean lives in Sioux Falls and joined us for Breakfast after church at Kaladis. Thank you Fay and Ken for a wonderful Sunday morning, including breakfast!

The older we get, the more we learn what we don’t know. We left Sioux Falls after the Kaladis breakfast, heading north toward Alexandria, MN to an RV park that former co-hosts (Colorado Bend, TX), Bob and Twyla co-manage. Bob suggested we stop at Pipestone National Monument on our way. The monument is a little north of the small town of Pipestone, MN. What a delightful side trip. We learned that Indian Tribes from around the nation come here to quarry for pipestone rock to make peacepipes. It is quite laborious work and only available to native Indians, and only by application. They have to hand quarry through all the hard granite to get down to the small vein of pipestone, which is quite soft. We saw a native making a pipe by hand, and saw a few pipes for sale at the visitor center. No…we didn’t buy one.

We ventured a little further north toward Prairie View RV Park, a stone’s throw from Prairie Edge Casino neat Granite Falls.  A fabulous park and one of the nicest we have ever stayed…and maybe the most reasonable…$25 a night for full hookup, concrete parking pad and patio, new tables, yard lights, WiFi, personal trash receptacle and recycle bins, very nice bath house and landscaping.

It was a beautiful day Monday June 5, and since we only had 88 miles to travel, we decided to do a little house cleaning. Both inside and out. Ed gave the truck and trailer a hand bath to get the water spots out, while Connie scrubbed the floor and gave our throw rugs a thorough cleaning. A great morning. Thank you Lord for providing. We pulled in to Oak Park Kampground in Garfield Minnesota, 6 miles from Alexandria, Monday early afternoon and were greeted by our friends, Bob and Twyla.

They took us in to the Boulder Tap House for a brew and burger. Very nice, especially visiting with our ol’ buds from Colorado Bend State Park in Texas. Oh…the tap house has zero connection to Boulder, Colorado!

Tuesday, Bob and Ed drove the 6 miles from Oak Park Kampground to the Legacy of the Lakes Museum in Alexandria. Bob, being from this land of 10,000 lakes had actually built a few boats himself, and was a member of the museum support group, so was quite familiar with many of the boats on display. He made an excellent tour guide as we explored the museum. Bob pointed out the predecessor to the jet ski in the foreground of the top picture. Thanks Bob.

Jay and Gail Kulp came out to the park later Tuesday. They took us back in to Alexandria for a brew and burger at Raapers Eatery and Ale. An older hole-in-the-wall restaurant where they knew many of the folks. No wonder…Gail grew up in Alexandria and graduated high school there. We had a wonderful visit as we reflected on some Utah memories from back in the 80’s. They drove us around the area, pointing out many of the lakes. They finally agreed there were 351 fishable lakes in their county.

Bob and Twyla came over for a pancake breakfast Wednesday morning before we departed for Wisconsin, but we failed to get a picture while they were there. Got this quick snapshot of Twyla on her pool duty just as we were leaving. They love it at Oak Park, but not so much after October. So we plan on seeing them again when we all get back to Arizona this winter.

South Dakota

After a wonderful visit with family, we pulled out of Gillette on Thursday June 1 heading east toward Sioux Falls, SD. As we neared SD in eastern Wyoming, we saw how lush the country was with green grasses, along with cattle munching away. We were reminded of a time long ago by this historical marker at a rest stop along I90 and thought it gave travelers, including us, a bit of history of the area.

Pulled in to Spearfish Canyon City Campground  Thursday afternoon to a beautifully landscaped RV campground near the heart of town. The babbling Spearfish creek  was right out the back of our spot.

The DC Booth Historical Fish Hatchery is directly across from our park on Spearfish Canyon Road. Managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the hatchery has 10 campsites reserved for volunteers that serve as guides and cashiers at the various sites at the hatchery. We walked around a bit for a short time with a promise to spend more time there on our way back in August.

George and Janet Wilken, some old friends we knew from Tooele, UT back in the eighties live in Spearfish. It was a real treat to have them come by and say hi and take us to dinner later. A memorable Spearfish visit for sure.

We’ve seen these Wall Drug signs as long as we can remember traveling our nations roadways, so it was only proper to take a little time to pull in the Wall, SD and see what Wall Drug Store was all about. Wow! It’s pretty incredible really. Lot and lots of notions, knick knacks, clothes, boots, donuts, ice cream, and the stores go on and on. We didn’t notice any drugs at Wall Drug Store however. It was very crowded as we weaved our way around other curiosity seekers.

After surviving Wall Drug, we made our way to our first Boondockers Welcome location. Boondockers is made up of RVers from around the country that share a place they have to park an RV in return for being able to park their RV at similar places when they travel. We don’t have a place to share, but pay a modest annual fee to be part of the group. This first stop did not disappoint. Park on a hill overlooking the Missouri River. Fantastic!

Travel Wyoming

Before leaving Berthoud we took a fun walk around town. Berthoud is a great little town between Longmont and Loveland and boasts TWO breweries! We love City Star and their American IPA. City Star is located just next to the US flag in the picture.

We also had to make one last visit to Aleworks in Loveland. They now include sour brews; an up and coming trend. We’re not quite there yet.

Also had to make a quick stop by Laughing Ladies Quilt store in Berthoud. A quaint place with added charm because its located in one of the Berthoud’s older buildings and maintains a rustic appeal.

We began our journey north on Friday morning May 26 with a delicious egg and bacon sandwich at Cheri’s in Loveland. Then up to Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Cheyenne to visit the Tilton gravesite. Cheri drove separately and met us there. It was windy of course, so Connie’s hair was out of control. The stop was especially fitting for this Memorial Day weekend. Harold Tilton, the girl’s father, served in WWII and landed on Normandy Beach. The small U.S. flag honors his service. The ashes of their beloved mother Vera are buried next to him.

We continued our trip on Friday to Huntley, WY? Uhh? Where? Almost to Lyman, NE. Uhh? Where? Actually a beautiful wide open and green area of our country. The Table Mountain Winery boasts being the only commercial vineyard in Wyoming. They use Frontenac grapes, a hybrid vine especially vibrant in colder climates, formed from  a cross-breeding process developed at the University of Minnesota. This was the first Harvest Host stop we have ever made, but we have a few more in line as we travel east. Patrick and is mother Lori were very gracious, serving us in a wine tasting as well as welcoming us to park for free…with WiFi. Their smaller vineyard is next to the tasting room, and they have a much larger vineyard just over the hill. The family also farms.

Long roads out here in the west! Maybe a car, or an antelope now and then. Seems that there are places one can go to get away from the stop and go, and long waits in traffic. Wyoming is the least populated state, with only ONE U.S. representative (Liz Cheeney). When Mile High football stadium is full, the population would be the largest city in Wyoming.

We pulled in front of Shelby’s home in Gillette mid-afternoon on Friday. It had rained all night at the vineyard and we had to use 4×4 for over a mile to get back to the pavement. Our truck and trailer were covered in mud. We used Shelby’s hose to wash off most of it.

Shelby loves his basement, which is always decorated for Halloween. We raised a strange kid. The basement is set up with an awesome big screen TV, not to mention a bar, electronic darts, pool table, regulation card table, and commercial size popcorn maker. He’s pictured with his girlfriend Kerri.

We lost our daughter Kari to cancer in February. Her husband Warren was killed on a motorcycle in 2012. Way too early for both of them! We visited their gravesite on Memorial day with the Gillette family, pictured here are Kari and Warren’s adult children, Hagen and Brittani. Warren served several years in the National Guard so a small flag had been placed next to the cross at the foot of his gravesite; just a many others graves were marked this Memorial day.They served and honored their country.

Stopover in Colorado

Colorado is normally quite beautiful. However, we’ve had 3 to 1 bad days to nice days since arriving. Snow and cold in May?? Even after Mother’s day! Here’s a couple shots of Loveland RV Resort on a nice day, and another of our spot on one of the not so nice days. It snowed more than the picture shows. We stayed here from April 18 to May 18.

After spending a few hours getting the snow off the top of the slides, we moved our home to Cheri’s on May 19, only about a 3 mile trip. A quiet street and neighbors didn’t fuss. No hook ups here, but spent most of the time in the house. A very nice 3 days with Connie’s sis. She takes great care of us and no parking fees!

We were not comfortable sticking our in the street at Cheri’s, so we moved down the road about 9 miles to Berthoud. Our financial manager and his wife Bobbie invited us to stay in their driveway while they went on their New York trip. Their 1892? home is in the background. A very nice setting and they even ran an extension cord so we could have a little power. Our solar has been working fine, but it doesn’t function well while nasty weather and clouds.

Its was good to touch bases with friends and family here, along with dentist and doctor appointments. Ed drove a few times for Dakota Bus Service/Grace Coach Lines which helped pay lot rent at Loveland RV. So even with the not so nice days, we’ve enjoyed our time, but ready to head north to see family/friends in Gillette, Wyoming over Memorial Day.

We’ve Moved…again!

Just before leaving Arizona, we were invited for dinner and a tour of Amanda Sihler’s frog farm. Amanda is the published co-author of the Poison Dart Frog book. She is also nephew Kevin’s sweetheart. The tour was fascinating, especially listening to Amanda’s wealth of knowledge about these tiny frogs from rain forest environments. Oh…and the dinner was great too. Dined with teen girl daughters: Jenna, Nina, Maria, and Rachel. We were impressed with them as well.

Saying goodbye to Steve and Jenni, we departed Twin Palms in Mesa on Thursday morning, April 13 and traveled to the Walmart in Las Cruces, NM. Nice Walmart with 24hr security and an easy walk to Applebees. We enjoyed a beer and had a bit to eat before coming back to have some popcorn and watch a movie. Our solar is working great.

Then over to spend time with Ed’s sister Alice and some family in Stephenville, TX. Very nice visit and enjoyed Easter services at the Cowboy Church of Erath County. We were greeted by cowboys on their horses as we drove in. Definitely TEXAS. Joined more family for Easter dinner at Stacy’s mother-in-law’s place. Liz is a great hostess. Stacy is Ed’s nephew.

After spending 3 nights at the Stephenville City Park campground, we got back on the road heading north, stopping at Valley Pecans in Chillicothe. A delightful place that has a small cafe in addition to pecans, wine, and all sorts of must-haves. A recommended stop when traveling down US 287.

Traveled on to Dumas, TX for another night on the road at Walmart. A pleasant evening, eating at home and a night of popcorn and a little Plex TV.

We generally get going pretty early when staying at Walmart. Made good time, making it on in to Loveland RV Resort on Tuesday April 18 around 1:30pm. Remembering that we had been in 2 other time zones on our trip. We’ll be here through May 18.

Last Few Days in Mesa

Our little yard at Twin Palms has turned out to be quite nice. We now have a shed and a newly painted bird house to offset the miniature bird bath and flower pots. We’ll leave all this behind when we leave Thursday April 13, only to return in November when we resume our manager duties.

Connie’s sewing room (doubles as dining room and theater) has expanded. Just needed “a little,” more room for “stuff.” She looked long and hard for just the right table and found this gem at Ikea. Catch? She had to stain and polyurethane it. Ed put it together. Pretty much a non event. It’s working out quite well and she’s happy to have her tools close at hand. Happy wife, happy life!

Ed thought the stones around the south loop lawn needed beefing up in order to keep folks from pulling their trailers over the grass, and in some cases over the stones. He used Steve’s truck and trailer to pick up 4 much larger stones, boulders really, at Pioneer Materials. We’re hoping that folks will drive with more caution now.

New boulders are somewhat heavy, but even the old guy managed to roll them in to place.

We’ve enjoyed attending Harvest East Valley Bible Fellowship. This is their new facilities as of April 2. They moved from a business warehouse where Harvest Chandler was first established in 2012. Lots of friendly folks. Music is great and Pastor Adam Bailie is powerful as he preaches straight from the Bible. He has a special gift; he can preach on just a couple verses, giving the hearer a greater understanding and holding our attention. However, we are looking forward to getting back a for a few Sundays at Foundations in Loveland. Fantastic worship in the Lord there as well.

Connie volunteered to lead a Beth Moore women’s study on Tuesday evenings at Sun Valley Community Church in Mesa. This is sister Carol and husband Roger’s home church. It’s been fun for Connie. Carol also leads a study and helped cover the class while we were in Gillette with Kari.  Tough times for us, but grateful that the ladies in the class fully understood, and offered prayers for the family during this time.

Life at Twin Palms is slowing way down now that the weather if getting hotter. We only have 15 spaces here, and down to 6 RVs after being at capacity most of the winter. Walking the loop at night, we have jokingly compared it to being like a ghost town. But it does give us a chance to visit around the area.

No, the picture isn’t Twin Palms, but Turf Paradise race track in Phoenix. We attended Monday April 3 (Happy BD Shelby)  and stayed for 3 races.

We actually made three $2 bets and won on one. After investing $6, our return on investment was $2.10. Alpine Luck won this race…but he wasn’t the horse we bet on. Lots of fun, plus free parking and entrance to the clubhouse on week days.

Not yet completely broke, we left Turf Paradise and drove over to Scottsdale. Walked around old town a bit…


…then had a late lunch/early supper at Rehab Burger Therapy. We enjoyed our burgers, definitely did not need supper, but came close to needing therpy:-)

 

Last few weeks in Arizona

While we had a week of hotter than the norm days…mid 90°, we are back to low to mid 70° range these last few days of March. Very very nice, especially in the late afternoon and evening. Great Happy Hour weather. We’ve taken a little time to explore and found The Pork Shop in Queen Creek, out in the San Tan Valley area. A small meat market (dead pig only) in the middle of a somewhat rural area. How fun. We got a pack of great pepper bacon and some scrumptious pork chops. A fun visit.

We visited the Keelan (Nephew Marshall, Amanda, and Mackenzie) Homestead one Sunday to help plant some new fruit trees and install new buried water lines. Lots of work to do there, which is actually in the heart of Chandler! Amanda on tractor. Looks like Connie found a treasure?

Marshall with mom Carol (Connie’s sister) taking a break from planting trees while discussing ongoing plans . It was a fun day…a little hot, but we were rewarded well 🙂

Meanwhile, we do have duties at Twin Palms RV Park. One of Ed’s projects is standardizing sewer connections on some of the RV lots. Here he is cutting off the existing orangeburg pipe below ground level.

Next step is adapting to regular size 3″ PVC pipe using a Fernco flexible adapter.

Lastly, top off the new PVC with a cap, pour concrete in to a form to keep junction in place. Once set up, the site it ready for a new occupant.

 

Our new car??? Well not exactly. Just a note that we  are planning on purchasing an older run-around car when we return to Mesa in November. That means we have been invited to return as park managers (hosts, volunteer overseers, etc) next winter. Will return in November and depart again in April 2018…Lord willing and our health holds out.

 

Back to Full Time in Arizona

Unlike living in a home where you have a yard, we have to compromise a bit on space. Connie loves plants and would love to have a garden, but full time in a 5th wheel trailer requires some sacrifices. Connie makes the most of our small yard and recently purchased this cute little bird bath. Surprisingly enough, we have a variety of birds here; including finch, doves, hummingbirds, and quail. We have 8′ Oleanders along the back of our lot, usually loaded with birds. At any rate, it helps make full timing a little more enjoyable, especially when we’re here for several months.

Our dining room, evening theater, and sometimes bedroom, often turns in to Connie’s sewing studio. You can see the oleanders out the rear window. Click here to see some Connie’s quilting activities while we’ve been here.

Living in the 15 lot Twin Palms RV Park doesn’t have all the amenities of some larger parks, but we do have community, albeit short time frames. Most of the folks in this impromptu “block party” have moved on, but we remember them well.

A previous occupant at the site next to us trimmed a large chunk out of one side of this tree, plus it was leaning about 30°. Ed dug a large hole about 2′ deep all around, then pulled it straight with a tie-down strapped to a steel post. It will probably stay attached until next winter. After a little more trimming, it looks a lot better! Way to go Ed. Note the oleander plants along the back of the lots. Gives us a little privacy.

Connie has gotten out a few times to hike. Mostly with sister Carol (above) and a couple other women that have become new hiking friends. This hike was earlier in the year around Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Another hike with new friend Kerry, was up around Lost Dutchman State Park. The howling coyote is a sundial.

These beautiful Lilies were sent to us from the great folks at Big Creek Fish Hatchery in Oregon to help comfort our grief from losing Kari. We gotta go back there. What a wonderful place to serve as well as great community!

We have a few more weeks to enjoy Arizona. It supposed to be hitting 90 this week so won’t be too long before it gets really HOT! We pull out April 13, heading to sister’s in Stephenville, TX; then back to Colorado for about 6 weeks; then Gillette for a few days before heading east. We’re thinking of taking a “Vacation.”

A Final Goodbye

Darling and courageous daughter Kari.

Placard of Kari’s headstone. The real one will take a few weeks.

Saturday February 7, 2017: We took an early morning (6am) Frontier flight from Phoenix to Denver; Drove Cheri’s car with nephew Marshall and Cheri to Gillette, Wyoming. A 5 hour drive. Attended the Celebration for Life service at New Life Wesleyan Church in Gillette and graveside at Campbell County Cemetery, and drove the 5 hours back to Denver. Flew back to Phoenix Sunday evening.

Celebration of Life video slide show. Thanks to Shannon Hartnett and Brittani Phelps.

Goodbye Precious Daughter

Our beloved daughter Kari Ann Allen-Brinkerhoff-Wales passed on to the arms of Jesus today after a 13 year battle with cancer.
April 29, 1974 – February 7, 2017

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2Timothy 2:7-8