Saturday July 15, 2023

Neighbor Ben took us to Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix for our 9:35am Delta flight to Amsterdam via Minneapolis.

Don’t downplay Ed having a cane, it got us early boarding.

Delta’s web site said it would be $70 to check a bag! We’ll have to check about that next time. Anyway, we managed quite well with each of us having a carry on.

Delta flight to Amsterdam

After seeing Ed  using a cane, Delta agents ushered us on the plane for pre-boarding. We had a 3 hour flight to Minneapolis then we boarded our Amsterdam flight a couple hours after landing. The Amsterdam flight  was a little over 8 hours. Tried, but couldn’t sleep.

Sunday July 16, 2023

This is Viking Riverboat Hlin. Four levels. The top level is open deck, but they do provide canopies. Excellent location for viewing all the countryside on the Rhine.

The bottom level are the standard staterooms. Better value, but somewhat limited view. See comments later.

Our Standard Stateroom was the lowest level on the 4 level riverboat. The windows were a little above water level, we could still see out a bit, although Connie had to stand on the bed. The bed is a very comfortable queen. It looks bigger bc of picture. Bathroom is small as well, but adequate. The shower can be seen in the mirror reflection.

Rhine travel map

The Cruise
Day 1 Sun July 16: Amsterdam
Day 2 Mon 17: kinderdijk, Netherlands
Day 3 Tue 18: Cologne, Germany
Day 4 Wed19: Koblenz & Rüdesheim, Germany
Day 5 Thur 20: Speyer, Germany
Day 6 Fri 21: Strasbourg, France
Day 7 Sat 22: Breisach, Germany
Day 8 Sun 23: Basel, Switzerland and Home

After 11+ hours of flying and a 2 and half hour layover, we got into Netherlands Amsterdam Schiphol Airport around 7:45am CEST (Central European Summer Time). CEST is 8 hours later than Mesa, AZ. After finally finding our Viking Representatives, Viking provided bus transportation to our Riverboat, Hlin (silent H), in time to get our bearings and enjoy an 11am brunch. Our stateroom wasn’t ready so we headed out to explore Amsterdam

There are many canals in Amsterdam and many canal cruises. We selected the Hop-on-Hop off boat for our transportation (under the bridge coming toward stop). We boarded the boat near the Hlin and disembarked at the Vincent Van Gogh Museum. We walked from there to the Heineken Experience.

on board the hop-on boat
Hop-on-Hop-off boat

Vincent Van Gogh Museum


We found the Vincent Van Gogh museum fascinating. Many many originals. Also many many people for mid-day on a Sunday.

Heinken taps

While the Heineken Experience provided a little adventure it was somewhat disappointing. Connie did discover a new drink she likes at the specialty bar, and Ed enjoyed teasing the help.

BTW, we understand that Heineken purchased Lagunitas Brewery in 2017. However it wasn’t offered here. Dutch don’t care for IPA?

Our canal Hop-on-Off boat sailed (?) right by the Heineken building on the way to Van Gogh so we had a good idea where it was when we walked back. Our boat was red, so this isn’t it.

We did get up to the roof on the Heineken building. A great view of Amsterdam and quite relaxing to finish our drinks. For some reason they would not sell us a 2nd drink. We talked with some folks there and enjoyed our time. Connie had just purchased a couple Van Gogh prints on postcards and they somehow managed to fall through a crack in the plank floor. No way to retrieve.

Monday July 17, 2023

The only day we had rain on the cruise was the first day out at Kinderdijk, where we walked to see several Dutch windmills. They are part of a larger water management system to prevent flooding. The area is low and the windmills pump water to higher levels to avoid flooding. Today, this is done mostly with electric pumps, but they keep these older windmills for their heritage and traditions.

We had a bit of a break from the rain by going with our guide to a makeshift classroom to learn more about the complexities of the windmills.

Tuesday July 18, 2023

Cologne Cathedral

We docked at Cologne, Germany July 18, the second day of the Rhine Cruise. Köln is German for Cologne. Cologne is given credit for the famous vernacular for the fragrance. But also for this massive (184′ feet tall) Cathedral built in the 16th century.

Jewish Marker

This is a plaque in the sidewalk with the name of Elisabeth Friede, born 1884, deported from her home located here (left picture below) in 1941 by the Nazis.

The picture on the right is an HA Schult, creation of a winged Flying Ford Fiesta, located on the former armory “temporarily” since 1991. Click on the link to view it better.

Wednesday July 19,2023

First picture is the 16′ Lorelei maiden (click link for full story). According to legend the beautiful maiden would sing and sailors would be transfixed, lured to their doom. The next two pictures are landscapes along the beautiful Middle Rhine. We sat out on the open deck and listened to our program director (Lee)  describe the scenery and many castles along the way of our cruise. We suffered from castle overload…not really.

The Hlin docked at Brauback, Germany where excursions to Medieval Marksburg Castle, the Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, and our included (free) excursion to Koblenz began. We cruised to Rüdesheim and docked in the afternoon where there were evening excursions to wine tasting and dinner at Schloss Johannisberg Estate, and yet another excursion to dine in Rüdesheim. We stayed on board for the chief steward and the bartender demonstration of making Rüdesheim Coffee: Brandy, coffee, sugar,whipped cream, and chocolate. All this while enjoying beer and wine as an option.

We bused in to Koblenz , a town on the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Our guide led us through old downtown to one of the many churches in this area. Seems like all the towns/villages have at least one cathedral. Too bad no one attends.

Thursday July 20, 2023


Speyer Imperial Catherdral. Romanesque style, much plainer than the Gothic cathedrals we’ve seen. Built between 1030 and 1061, serves as the tomb for 4 emperors, 4 kings, and 3 empresses. We chose not to view crypt, but got coffee on the square instead.

Speyer square

While the German city of Wittenberg is known as the birthplace of the reformation when Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the church there. It was Speyer where the name Protestantism originated. Derived from a letter of protest signed by six princes and representatives of Imperial cities during the Diet of Speyer in 1529. Speyer also served an important part of the Jewish culture as well. Very interesting town. Enjoyed it for sure.

Friday July 21,2023

Strasbourg had may highlights. One of the most surprising was learning about the storks that live there. We learned that they mate for life, live to be about 30 years old and migrate south in the winter…unless one of the parents is native; then just one parent migrates. They always come back to the same nest every year.

Strasbourg Cathedral

A fun surprise for us strolling around Strasbourg was stumbling in to this market. Lot of fresh vegetables along with a variety of other items, like flowers. There were a few shops with meat items displayed in glass enclosed refrigerated cooler mounted on a trailer. It was a great experience. Connie bought some Pasta that we managed to get home. It’s gone now.

The architecture in Strasbourg was different than we had seen before, especially in Mesa, AZ, or the USA for that matter. Brought back memories of some WWII war movies that have cities like this. The fellow with the red sign is our guide. We were in group 32L (for leisurely). Viking provides a “listening device” with several channels to listen to your guides. Works very well and is good for about a block away in case you drag behind.


Saturday July 22, 2023

Colmar Pocket
Colmar Pocket view

View of the Colmar Pocket valley where intense fighting happened during WWII. Our excursion was, led by a very passionate and inspirational guide, Birgit was full of knowledge that she shared very well.

Colmar trek

After overlooking the Colmar Pocket area from the hill with a stone depiction of some of the action, we strolled the street to the wine cellar museum. Not that spectacular, but shows how thankful the French are for the Americans.

A baptism gown made from a parachute. American and French flags honoring the bravery and courage of those that gave their all.

Outside of Colmar, at Holtzwihr, a short distance with this memorial a major battle where US soldier Audie Murphy protected the under fire troops by jumping on tank that was on fire and firing the machine gun that drove back the advancing Germans. View the full history of the event here.

Our bus parked right next to this tribute site. I wanted to capture that while it is a very moving tribute, it isn’t glamorized at all. One has to know where it is. Nonetheless it remains a reminder of the courage and dedication portrayed by so many.


We were mesmerized by all the cobble stone like very narrow streets, the very old buildings, plants in the windows. Connie loved the plants in the planter.

Colmar-Ostheim Church

On our way back to the Hlin, we stopped at Ostheim, near Colmar (see map above). This is the wall of a church that was destroyed in the bombing. The French community decided to leave the wall that was left standing as a memorial to remember all that fought and perished. Note the huge stork nest on top. Anabell’s nest, but she wasn’t there when we stopped.

Check out this web page with a great history of the Colmar Pocket battle. The Colmar Pocket – “The Forgotten Campaign”


After arriving back to the Hlin, just in time for lunch. Certainly don’t want to miss a meal, We boarded buses for a trek up and around the Black Forest, famous for Black Forest Cake…maybe. At any rate views all around were breathtaking. We heard that the cows have legs shorter on one side so the can traverse the hills to graze.

Marktscheune Martketplace

One of our stops was at a unique spot along the Black Forest highway (Marktscheune) on the return to the Hlin. In time for dinner of course. They sold cuckoo clocks as many folks come to this area to buy the clocks. Several on the tours purchased clocks. The sales included $89 shipping.

Marktscheune had many interesting things to look at other than cuckoo clocks. One of was the Black Forest WOOD bicycle. Only €4950,00 Euros (about $5400). But no shipping. Wouldn’t fit in our carry-on.

Before loading back on the buses. Our group gathered for a fun Black Forest cake making demonstration. And it was fun.


Everyone on the Hlin were wonderful and fun. We hit it off very well the stewards from Portugal. Ines (left) and Barbara (right). We always tried to sit in their area. We learned Barbara was only 18 and this was just her 2nd week. Delightful young women.

We also developed new friendships with many. Pictures on the left, clockwise from Connie is Mark and JoEllen from Dallas; Gary and Amy from Houston; Ken and Colleen from “South” Omaha.

On the right picture, our delightful friends from the UK. John and Pauline, and Pauline’s sister Joan (black hair). They were indeed a lot of fun.

Now that we’re back home, we enjoyed it so much we’re planing on going again in 2024. Not sure which river yet, or maybe even an ocean cruise. We found Viking an outstanding cruise company and highly recommend looking into what they offer if you’re considering a cruise. Be sure to tell them Ed and Connie Allen referred you. They told us they might thank us.

Our Lives in Mesa, AZ

Ed got a job with Via Adventures, or Via Trailways, charter bus company out of Tempe. Newer buses than he drove at Grace, but a few more restrictions…like he must wear slacks, white (or gray) dress shirt and a tie. Perhaps he’ll get used to it.

His first trip was taking some Junior High students to a YMCA camp in Prescott.

He drove one of four bus loads of Steeler fans to the Cardinal game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. Crazy.

We left our new home August 21 to travel to Colorado for a visit, but the main calling was to attend grand daughter Faith’s senior year of volleyball. We stopped both ways in route to stay/visit with our long time friends Cliff and Cyndy in Montrose. A great time with them. Cliff drove us out to the badlands not far from their home.

We also managed to stop at Brian and Angie’s for a night. Fantastic time spending time with them at their new Fraser River BeerCo brewery in Fraser.

One of the games was in honor of all the seniors on the team (2). Faith played the senior role for fun. Got a great picture of her with us, along with Shannon and Tim.

We also managed to get up to Gillette to visit son Shelby and grand daughter Brittani, her husband Garth…and our GREAT grand daughter Blakelee. We had a much better time on our visit then this impromptu picture would indicate. Blakelee is generally quite happy, but was a little grumpy when we took the picture.

We stayed in Colorado 2 full months, leaving September 23, a day earlier than planned to avoid a storm. However, we still hit a piece of it as we traveled through the Teleuride area.

We love Colorado..and Wyoming…but it was nice getting back to our new home, and warmer weather. Excited about the fall/winter in Arizona. So nice, especially when we see all the dreadful storms moving through the middle of the country.

Soon after getting back, we traded our 1 ton F350 diesel dually in for a 2017 F150 Platinum. It appears unbelievably new, but had 71k miles. Glad we got a 36k/3yr warranty to go with it. At any rate, a lot easier to get around in than the big dually. We hope it will pull whatever new travel trailer we wind up getting when we eventually sell our 5th wheel.

Sorry to say, but we still haven’t sold it. It is at Auto Corral RV in Mesa on consignment. Hoping the influx of snowbirds will generate a buyer. It should as the new price is a steal.

In the mean time, we continue to spend $ like we had some. New granite counter tops and lighting in the kitchen does help make our home more comfy.

Finally…Getting Settled

Long time since our last post, to its time to catch up a bit. Before leaving Twin Palms to move in to our new home, we were amazed by watching the palm tree trimmer. We learned that palm trees need to be trimmed once a year or they start looking rather shabby.


As we reported in our last post, the home we purchased in Mesa was our 8th offer. We questioned our reasons several times since moving in. Primarily because we had hoped to locate in the Gilbert area. We try reasoning to justify our purchase…but resort to reminding ourselves we’re on a two-year plan; after that we’ll know more about post RV life and where else we might want to live. At any rate, we pulled our Mobile Suites up to the front of our house and started moving in on Monday June 3, 2019.

So, where is your Mobile Suites you might ask…well we have it under consignment at Auto Corral RV in Mesa. Not much interest with temps in the 100s, but we’re hopeful it will generate more interest when the Snowbirds start arriving in October/November.

One of the first things we did after moving in was paint the garage and epoxy the floor. Connie painted the entire garage herself using paint from a $20 5-gallon ooops paint bucket from Home Depot. Water in Mesa, most of Arizona really, is terrible. We added a whole house filter, new water heater and a softener. The exiting water heater was 20 years old!! We had the softener connected prior the whole house filter. Seems to work well as we tolerate the water okay. The epoxy floor is incredible.

Another focus on moving in was to get the old brown carpet out of the house. We put in new plank tile where most of the carpeted area exited; then new carpet in two bedrooms.

To our delight, we have found many businesses around our area are convenient to our home. Home Depot, Frys, and Sprouts for example. We can ride our bikes to our new dentist, and Ed can ride his bike to his new doctor. He has been riding to Home Depot a couple times a week. A round trip journey of 4 miles. Sometimes in the 100 degree heat. Silly guy.

Yet another must on moving in was to get the sewing room painted and organized. Other than being the hottest room in the house, Connie loves her setup.

She has an never ending list of sewing to do; mostly quilting. She put many hours in to this tee-shirt quilt. Maybe a geometry II class back in high school would have helped. It took a lot of measuring and re-measuring for it all to come together. She made the quilt for a retired General Motors engineer from our church. Actually, a gift to him from his wife. He worked at the Mesa Proving Grounds until he retired when it closed in 2009. He had saved all these never worn tee shirts.

We’ve been working diligently in the yard. We had been looking for a maintenance free place. Ooops

Ed has taken out several plants. A couple large ones to make room to park the dually, and several others because he thought they looked like they needed to come out. A lot to do with not fully understanding desert life. He got 1 1/2 ton load of gravel and spread it around the front yard. Unfortunately it wasn’t a direct match with exiting gravel and didn’t completely cover. Now what?

While it does get quite hot here through the day, many mornings have been quite pleasant. We can go out on the patio for our morning coffee around 5:30am and enjoy about 1/2 hour of a cool 82 degrees. Later, temps have been in the 104-115 range.

We have a view of the Augusta Ranch Golf Course from our patio. Much better than having a view of a 2-story across a block wall fence. The view must be where our reasoning was captured.

We have discovered, however, that scorpions come out of the block fence openings at night. Ed has sprayed 3 times, but we may still find one when we go out with our trusty blue light. So far we haven’t found any in the house. It is amazing how they glow like a neon sign when they are in the blue light. They even hold still for you to smash them, but if you miss with your smasher, they are quick to disappear. This is our Arizona entertainment folks.

This is the thermometer on our patio in the middle of the afternoon. It will probably go up another 1-2 degrees by 4-5pm. We’ve learned that Arizonians are quite proud of their heat. It is often a topic of conversation. Much like when Coloradans boast about 6″ of new April snow or how they endured a May blizzard. All in all it is a “dry heat” and much much more tolerable when there is no humidity.

To escape the heat, our plans are to leave Arizona August 21, and enjoy the northern Rockies through October. Looking forward to our visit with our full time friends, Cliff and Cyndy. No longer full time. Also with our high country friends, Brian and Angie in Fraser, especially their newly opened Fraser River BeerCo brewery. But also being around family and going to grand daughter Faith’s senior year of volleyball at Lakewood high school. We also plan to venture into Wyoming to see family. Connie will undoubtedly find time to visit her super friends at the Presser Foot, and Ed will undoubtedly drive a few trips for Grace Coach Lines.


We had our first major excitement a couple months after arriving. Mesa Sales 3 alarm fire located next door to our RV spot at Twin Palms RV Park. Fire started around 6pm Jan 30, 2018 and had Twenty fire trucks responding. Main street was blocked off for several hours. Around 70 fire fighters and 3 ladder trucks. Look closely and you’ll see our trailer and Rav4 next to the ladder truck. An exciting evening for sure.

We’ve enjoyed our time here since arriving last November. Nice to have the little Rav4 and leave the big dually parked. Connie gets around more like a native every day.

We flew to Grand Junction twice looking at homes. The first trip in November, 2018 was premature because we were committed to serve as host/manager at Twin Palms RV through March. The trip was mainly to just check the real estate market in the area. We flew over again in February and looked more seriously, but must have lost motivation. Sister Cheri drove over and stayed with a us a couple nights and looked at houses along with us. She was open to move there, so was disappointed in our change of heart. We managed to carve out a little time to make a run to the nearby Monument National Park. Spectacular. We also got to visit with friends Jim and Connee as well as Cliff and Cyndy. Other than failing on the house hunt, we so very much enjoyed seeing everyone.

So…returned to Arizona with eyes set on finding a suitable home. WOW! Not so fast buster. So were thousand of other folks! We made 6 offers before finally going under contract for a home in Gilbert on our 7th. However, the home inspection turned up some serious problems, so we bailed. Our 8th offer went under contract April 8 with this home at 9447 E Kilarea Av in Mesa 85209. However, the seller wanted extra time to find a home to buy in Henderson, so closing was set for May 30. Needless to say, we are anxious in the waiting game, but all is coming together. Inspection, appraisal and loan all in place.

So many homes we looked at had a view of a 2 story behind, or a variety of other negatives. So we were drawn to this Kilarea home because of the unobstructed view of the Augusta Ranch golf course. Neither of us golf, but will be nice having the openness. We’ll also have a guest bedroom! Haven’t been able to have many guests the past 4 years living full time in our RV. Connie will also have a sewing studio. We’ll take some pictures to post after we get settled. Mostly of an empty house because we have no furniture!

House Hunting, but where??

Know anyone interested in a 38′ deluxe 5th wheel? This one is for sale. Also the 2016 F350 Diesel Dually to pull it with. Check out all the details at

While it has been our “HOME” for the past 3 years, we’ve come to covet a home with a foundation.

After leaving Chatfield State Park in Colorado, we stopped at Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs for 2 nights so we could attend Faith’s regional Volleyball tournament; then 4 days in Stephenville, TX to visit sister Alice and family. We had a great time with all of them.

Arrived back at Twin Palms RV Park on November 2 to serve our 3rd winter here as host/managers. A great spot for us where we are treated royally by the park owners. We’ve committed to them stay here through March, when our future is yet to be decided. If you know some folks that might be interested in hosting here next Winter, let us know and we’ll talk.

Timing is wrong to  buy an existing home now, so our focus is on new builds that would be ready for our April time frame. We are looking around here at some new developments, but nothing for us in AZ as yet.

We fly to Grand Junction, CO December 3-6 to scout out some new builds there, hoping we will be able to fine tune our thinking a bit. So…we’re down to Arizona or Colorado. Both are pulling at us, often both ways, or alternating. Our daily prayer includes asking for the good Lord’s help to lead us one way or the other, closing doors that we won’t fit through.

Sorry, but not a lot going on other than that. Oh yeah! We did have a marvelous Thanksgiving with sister Carol and family here. They always make us feel so welcome. Oh…we are also enjoying getting back to Christ Church in Gilbert.

Still in Colorado

On Thursday September 6, 2018, we traveled over I70, through the Eisenhower tunnel and over Vail Pass to Fruita. Fruita is about 10 miles west of Grand Junction.

We parked at the very nice Monument RV Park, just across I70 from Fruita. We were there 4 nights, mostly because Faith, along with Lakewood High School volleyball team, played in a tournament in Fruita on Friday, and Grand Junction on Saturday. They won both games! Yay!!

Just down the road and across the nearby Colorado River from the RV park is Colorado National Monument, often referred to as just “Monument” by the locals. It consists of 23,000 acres of canyons, plateaus and massive towers of naturally sculpted monoliths.

Tuesday, we drove 90 miles south to Ridgway State Park where our friends Cliff and Cyndy Mills serve as camphosts. At least they were, but they recently purchased a home in Montrose and are giving up full timing. We joined them for a chili cookoff, then  a tour of the dam on Wednesday. It was quite obvious that the Ridgway reservoir is very low. It’s water source comes from the Uncompahgre River. The dam and it’s associated 8-MW hydopower plant is managed by the Tri-County Conservancy water District. The tour included a 2000+ foot drainage tunnel they use to monitor how the dam is functioning.

From Ridgway Friday September 14, we stayed overnight at the Grande River winery, compliments of Harvest Hosts. Saturday we got back on I70, but took a bit of a detour in route to Fraser; taking Colorado 131 from Walcott to State Bridge, then over secondary Trough road to Kremmling, and on to Fraser, via US 40, where our friends Brian and Angie live. After spending a week in their driveway, we hope we’re still friends 😉  We had a great time with them and got around to tour some of the area. We had never been to Grand Lake, so that was fun experience.

Geez, the little town of Grand Lake, at an elevation of 8369′: claims to be the home of the world’s highest registered yacht club and the nation’s highest altitude golf course. The lake, fed from Rocky Mountain National Park streams, is where the Colorado River actually continues it’s 1450 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Many quaint shops along the historic downtown street, even a quilt shop! Warning: Grand Lake needs to fact check their boast of highest golf course and yacht club.

While we were at Brian and Angie’s, they invited us to attend the Great American Beer Fest (GABF) on Thursday September 20, 2018 opening day. The 3 day event, held at the Denver Convention Center, hosted over 800 breweries from all 50 states (160 from Colorado) serving over 4000 beers!

Not represented this year at GABF, but hope for the future. Brian and Angie are well on their way of opening Fraser River Beer Co in Fraser. It is exciting to follow their progress.

In spite of the long long line, depicted above, the convention center handled it well (over 8 football fields). Since we arrived somewhat early, it wasn’t very crowded yet. We just picked up our plastic tasting glass and were on our way. The GABF had a great app to show where to locate the brewers and beers by their large number placard.

It was indeed a fun night. Thanks Brian and Angie. We found many new beers to taste, of course, and saw many of the breweries we had visited on our travels.

While it took a little while for everyone to get in, the convention center became quite crowded by the time we left. Attendance was over 60,000 for the three days.

We spent the next two weeks at St. Vrain State Park near Longmont. More volleyball games, along with coffee, breakfasts, lunches with friends from the 12+ years we lived in Longmont. BUT…on our way to our next stop, Bear Creek Lake Campground, we were coerced (not really) to help load the Uhaul truck with Cliff and Cyndy’s storage unit stuff. Pictured are Connie, Austin (Cliff’s son) and friend Gary. Don’t ask where Cliff is.

The empty storage unit never looked so good…empty! They had maintained the unit since first going full time back in 2014. We are so happy for them, especially for finally moving their stuff from storage…and we know they are ecstatic!

We stayed at Bear Creek Campground 4 days. Quite convenient to Ortho Colorado where Connie had her hardware removed. Surgery was around an hour and she did very well.

This picture is a collage of Connie’s broken angle and first surgery. The hardware appeared quite large in the X-rays.

This is a picture of all the hardware removed, less two screws that were embedded in a bone.

Surgery was Wednesday October 10, followed by a post op appointment on Friday to check her healing process and remove the surgical dressing & elastic wrap. After that, she just had to keep a light bandage over the area for a week till the stitches come out. We went to Faith’s volleyball game that night without issue.

The day after surgery we moved to Chatfield State Park. A wonderful wide open park with lots of space. It was fantastic having full hookups again.

We see a few deer hanging out from back window.

But it is Colorado! Had a little storm come through our first Sunday at Chatfield. Temps got down to 15°. All of us parked there had to disconnect our water hose and use water from our on board water supply.

We’ve followed Cliff and Cyndy for four years, so since they are giving up full timing, our plan is to continue with their template. Just not sure about the location yet. It seems to be between Colorado’s western slope, and the Phoenix east valley…Gilbert area???


Like Cliff and Cyndy, we’ve enjoyed our full time experience, but its time to get a real house. No more black tanks to empty!



Catching up

We left Garryowen, Montana July 27 with sights set to eventually get to Loveland and Longmont (Colorado). We have many Volleyball games to attend. Grand daughter Faith plays for Lakewood High School and they have games scheduled through the end of October. See short video later in this post.

Stopped in Gillette for a few days for a visit with son Shelby, Grand daughter Brittani’s family, and grandson Hagen, fiancée Leanna (not in  picture), and other friends. Garth installed a 50amp outlet so we could park next to his shop with shore power. We stayed four nights. An enjoyable highlight was spending time with GREAT grand daughter Blakelee! She is such a sweet girl…and will soon have a brother to share with…Dean Scott.

July 31 we ventured over to Spearfish City Park for two days to enjoy the beauty of the area and visit George and Janet, some old friends from Utah going back to the 80’s. We were there a couple days before the infamous Sturgis Rally, so lots of interesting tents and motorcycles.

After Spearfish, we continued south to Cheyenne for Connie’s long awaited and planned 50th HS reunion. This large pasture, Last Chance Camp without hookups, suited us just fine for the three nights we were there.

We visited historic downtown Cheyenne and the 1886 Union Pacific Depot national landmark.

The depot houses Accomplice Brewery. Quite 21st century, especially for Wyoming. Serve yourself taps where you buy beer by the ounce.

Friday evening August 3, was Cheyenne’s High School Reunion’s first gathering icebreaker to reacquaint with old friends from high school days, and 1968 graduation. It was held at the new Botanical Gardens. There were a reported 285 folks in attendance. Cheyenne is a small town (approaching 60,000 now) and only had 3 high schools in 1968: Central, East, and St. Mary’s. St. Mary’s has since closed. Connie graduated from East (home of the Thunderbirds). Oddly enough most returning grads were 68.

The dinner was a well planned evening held at the Cheyenne Country Club. We sat with Gary and Linda, currently from Mesa, AZ. Linda and Connie go back to when they worked together for Mountain Bell in Cheyenne in the 70’s. The event committee did a fantastic job as many more folks attended then they had originally estimated. Seating was a little short for all 260 that came, but they made it work and the event was enjoyed by everyone.

August 6, 2018: Arrived for a one month stay at Loveland RV Resort, and later for a couple weeks at St. Vrain State Park near Longmont. It was great being settled for longer that 2-3 days. Ed drove some for Grace Coach Lines and Connie did a lot of sewing and visiting. She loved hanging out with sister Cheri and all the Presser Foot friends.

While we were in Loveland, we returned to Gillette for grand son Hagen’s wedding (8/18/18) to Leanna. Don’t ask about the dogs. Recently certified, Son Shelby performed the ceremony. What an event! We rode up with daughter Shannon in her Jeep Wrangler, which made for a long trip. Stayed overnight at Brittani and Garth’s place.

Here is a short 4 second video of grand daughter Faith serving. She is playing the Libero position.



Bozeman to Little Bighorn Battlefield

Spent 4 days in Bozeman with beautiful weather, but decided we should keep on track with our trek to Connie’s 50th HS reunion in Cheyenne.

We got on our way from Bozeman to Garryowen, on Wednesday July 25, but had to make a quick quilt store stop at Big Timber. A cute little shop called Little Timber. Wouldn’t you know, Connie found a piece of fabric “just right” for one of her projects. Yay! We found Big Timber to be delightfully welcoming with a small town footprint.

Arrived around around 2:30pm, parked and setup at 7th Ranch RV Camp, just south of Garryowen and the Little Bighorn National Park. The first picture here looks north toward the battlefield and the Little Bighorn river. A delightful location with full hookups. They even offered us a free ice cream treat when we checked in. We didn’t want to insult them, so we accepted.

Thursday, we drove the short 7 miles from our site to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (Custer’s Last Stand) arriving soon after they opened the gates. Free to old folks (62) with the America the Beautiful National Park Senior Pass. They are $80 now, but were only $10 when we got ours. Sorry youngsters. Next to the visitor center is Custer National Cemetery. Custer’s Last Stand site is on the hill just beyond the visitor center.

We watched a very informative 45 minute video in the visitor center, then caught the ranger talk on the south side overlook. The Ranger, actually a volunteer, dramatically spoke for around 30 minutes about the battle field and a step by step review of what took place that June 25, 1876, along with the events that led up to it, as well as afterward.

After the ranger talk, we walked the Deep Ravine pathway from the visitor center toward the Little Bighorn river. Much of the battle that the indians call “The battle of Greasy Grass” took place in this area, as well as some of the surrounding area.

The 249 marble stones mark the place where each soldier originally died and were buried in shallow graves. Our nations only battlefield where markers are found where soldiers fell. In 1999, with input from stories handed down from Lakota and Cheyenne families, the park service began placing red granite markers where the 60 plus indians fell. A difficult task since their bodies were taken away by the tribes after the battle.

Last Stand Hill Monument has the remains of about 220 soldiers buried around the base of the memorial. In 1877 the remains of 11 officers and 2 civilians were moved to various cemeteries throughout the country. Lt Colonel Custer was buried at West Point. Custer had been a general during the civil war, but assumed his regular army rank after the war. In 1881, the other soldiers were relocated from their original grave where they fell and re-interned in a single grave below the monument.

We opted to take the Absaalooke Tour bus for further explanation of the battle. A young Crow Indian was our narrator as we traveled along the battlefield road to the Reno-Benteen Battlefield Monument. In June 1876 there were an estimated 7000 Sitting Bull led Lakota, Cheyenne, and some Arapaho gathered in their village on the Little Big Horn River, 1500-2000 were warriors. By order of President US Grant, the 7th Calvary was determined to push the indians back to their reservation. Custer’s men all perished by the warriors determined to live as they had before, but battalions led by Major Reno and Captain Benteen had gathered together after initial fighting and retreated to a location along Sharpshooter Ridge. They conducted the shallow grave burials after the battle. We had passed the Little Big Horn National Monument many times as we drove by on I-90, but glad we stopped this time. An incredible history and site to see. Plan to stop if in the area.

Seeley Lake to Bozeman

Tuesday July 17. After spending a couple enjoyable nights, and breakfast with our hosts, we said goodby to Tom and Peggy and pulled away around 9:30am. Should have been a good travel day with a beautiful drive and relatively short trip to Helena. But our truck powered down about half way with an “Engine Power Reduced” dash warning. We could still drive, but only about 20 MPH in first gear. We pulled over while we contemplated what to do as there was zero cell service. After about 15 minutes, we decided to limp down the road a 1000 yards to a level spot and more off the highway. When making the move, the engine started running normal, so we were cautiously on our way again.

We found the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds in Helena and set up on our reserved spot. Electric only, but quiet…except for the train whistle that sounded erratically through the day and night. Ed got the truck in to Helena Ford to check the reduced power issue. They were very responsive and discovered the computer needed to be updated. Yeah! They took care of it under our power train warranty.

Later, old friend Lyla came by and took us to the Lewis and Clark Brewery in Helena. Very impressive! We all had one of their beers and then wandered over to the Suds Hut for chicken dinner. We had eaten there several times when we lived in Helena in the early 80s.

Wednesday, we met Lyla and some friends at Women’s park for Helena’s Alive at Five music in the park night. Wonderful weather and a fun night. Pictured are Ed, Mark (Lyla’s new acquaintance), Lyla, Vickie, Larry, and Gina. Connie took the picture of course. Ed worked with Gina and Lyla while he was with US West in the early 80’s. We stayed four days in Helena and had a great time. Getting back to this city we loved was a grand experience.

Friday was a free day for us. We drove out to Canyon Ferry Lake on the Missouri River. It is the 3rd largest body of water in Montana which is just 50 miles downstream from Missouri headwaters; Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison come together at Three Forks to become the Missouri. A fantastic recreational area, especially if you have a boat.

Saturday July 21. Left our Helena friends behind and headed for a four night stay at Sunrise Campground RV Park in Bozeman. We stopped at Wheat as a rest stop….but couldn’t resist getting one of their rolls. So big we shared half, and took the other half to share later. A recommended stop as you travel I90 around Three Forks.

We got parked and set up at Sunshine Campground on the east edge of Bozeman then headed downtown to Crazy Days, which included so much shopping, stores had their wares displayed on the sidewalk. We managed to look a lot, but got out unscathed.

The White Dog Brewery and Bozeman Spirits Distillery are downtown too.  We both tried the New England Hazy IPA and kept it cold by setting the glass in the ice tray. Pretty clever. We came back Monday to fill our growler at White Dog and purchase the Distillery’s 1889 bottle of whiskey, 1889 the year Montana became a state.

Of course our stopover wouldn’t be complete without searching out the local quilt store. Connie loved looking around Main Street Quilts, but disappointed that they are no longer a Bernina dealer. Although they did have a couple machines setting out.

We spent our last day exploring the beautiful Bozeman area, including a drive up Bridger Canyon to Bridger Bowl. We have fond memories of skiing there with friends and family when we lived in Helena.