Where We've Been (46 out of 50 States)...Where We Are!

Where We've Been (46 out of 50 States)...Where We Are!
We are extensively traveling around...working and having a blast...Life is Grand!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom

This photo was taken in 1999 with my grandson, Austin...a simpler and happier time!

Celebration…is how we choose to spend this day. My mom had some wonderful gifts that she shared with this world during her time here and this can be written by each person that ever shared any time with her. Yes, as her daughter it was challenging to say the least but as so many of my friends and total strangers that met her repeatedly announced just how pleasant she was to be around…I always knew there was more to her than what I could see as her daughter.

She had a very kind heart…one that would give her last dollar to you if you asked. She was always tough and stood strong during any crisis and could always be counted on to lend an ear but you also had to be open to listen to her advice because she loved giving it to anybody and everybody. Her advice was not always what you wanted to hear but it was usually right on target…she lived a life that gave her the right to give advice of what not to do with your life. Her life had not always given her an easy way out but no matter what bumps the world gave her…she came out the other side much wiser and stronger than I could ever imagine she could be.

The one thing that finally broke her was losing her baby son…even though he was over 40, he was still her baby and when he died…the sparkle in her eyes went out. She survived just over a year after his death but within that last year of her life…I found that person that everyone else spoke about. We spent many moments talking and sharing our life’s experiences with one another as if we had never spoken before. There was a difference about her that I hold dear every moment of every day now and that is how I know she is with me today and wanting us to celebrate her life.

She is with us on our new journey and each time we go after yet another of our dreams…she is there applauding us for finally doing what she always wanted to do but never took the time to go after. During our travels…she is there creating a safety zone around us and we know she will always be there for us spiritually…anytime we need her…just as she was before she moved on.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Cool Pines in Williams, Arizona

We did not want to drive into Phoenix in the heat of the day so we opted to hang out in Williams…a crisp, chilly afternoon. We stayed at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park …what a great park it is with all the amenities…using our Camp Club USA card we only paid $22...what a fantastic deal!

We took the shuttle that takes you anywhere on the premises of the Railway to Max & Thelma’s but they were closed until dinner so we walked a few short blocks to Pine Country Restaurant…the food was good but the pies were the BEST! If you are ever in the area…please do yourself a favor and try this place out.

Check out our Zee Map for the full reviews for both of these places.

I didn’t want to leave because the weather was fabulous, just wanted to hang out and enjoy this really beautiful area but Jerry wanted to head to Phoenix and get settled in so we left in the morning to beat the heat and got us a site for a month at this point in our journey…this may change since we are receiving many offers to go elsewhere. For now we are taking one day at a time…enjoying the moment and having the time of our lives!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Day of Mishaps Or Miracles…You Decide

When we are traveling we have a flow that we get into in the morning so we can get unhooked and on the road…this morning we were not in the flow at all. “Did he really ask me to rinse the black tank while I was brushing my teeth?” Instead of allowing it to fester, boil and then ruin our entire day…we chose to let it go and just have a good laugh over it.

The rest of Texas was flat…and I-40 had major construction and was so rough between Tucumcari and Santa Rosa in New Mexico. Our plan was to stop for the day in Santa Rosa but our exit was closed and the next one was under so much construction, we decided to move forward. Our plan was to then head straight to the Sky City Casino which was going to be our next day stop.

Shortly after we left Santa Rosa the “NOISE” began…quietly at first…my impression was the belt needed more dressing or needed to be tightened. We pulled into the next rest area where Jerry then proceeded to take off all the stuff in the way and tightened up the belt…in his opinion it was not really loose enough to be causing the noise and he was right as we pulled out of the rest area…immediately the noise came back and was getting LOUDER! We pulled into the next exit which was the Clines Corners exit…a major truck stop. We pulled into an area where Jerry could check it out…he now determined as I drove it and he walked beside it that it was something to do with our right front tire…OH NO…of course we thought the worst. Out came the never before used hydraulic jack we purchased last year…up went the front end…off came the tire…turn…squeal…turn…louder squeal…then…plop…this piece of tar fell out. It was lodged in and stuck on the shield, rubbing against the rotor.

For the rest of the day we had a smooth drive through the mountains…also nice to see them again…through Albuquerque, New Mexico…having to readjust our driving since waiting until the last minute for fuel could be dangerous out west because stations are further apart than back east.

We arrived at Sky City Casino RV Park…not impressed…the park is new…still under construction in areas…nice but overpriced at $28 for a FHU…Casino was small and smoky…Huwaka Restaurant’s buffet located inside the casino was terrible, overpriced and food was dry and not a wide assortment…thank goodness we hit a few jackpots or it would have been a total bust.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Out of Oklahoma and Into Texas

Oklahoma is an absolutely beautiful scenery State with plenty of Indian land and casinos…besides being hilly with lots of red dirt it is also very clean.

Driving into Texas was a bit different…flat…but plenty of roadside attractions…
“Cadillac Row”…we were a bit disappointed…with all the hype about it being a driving hazard and may need to be removed is just not a factor…it is far enough from the road that unless you were looking for it would not be a distraction at all. There is also the
“Largest Cross” in the western hemisphere and the “Leaning Tower” in Britter USA.

We seen plenty of RV Parks but many of them were empty and many advertised having storm/tornado shelters…not too comforting for us and definitely not a feature we look for in our travels, so we continued to drive a little over 200 miles…stopping at Amarillo Ranch RV Park in Amarillo, Texas…a nice, “feel like home” kind of park to do some laundry.

Gas prices continue to fluctuate…right now they are at $3.29 unleaded and $3.79 diesel.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One More Night In Oklahoma

All the errands we had to do took up so much time, we decided to drive a short distance…we found another Casino that offered FHU for free so we called it a day. This stay was at the Lucky Star Casino located in Concho, Oklahoma…they had about 7 or 8 sites and were FHU. All we needed to do was check in with security and they asked that we do not leave our rig to go sightseeing elsewhere…which was fine for us but may be a factor for others.

The casino was small and had a different kind of set up…all the machines were in rows…which made it a bit inconvenient in walking through and checking them out. Once again they paid us back for all we put into…including lunch…again…hard to complain.

They had a restaurant and a deli but no buffet, the restaurant had a bar atmosphere. Our server was a beautiful young lady who looked a lot like our daughter…she had a wild hairstyle with streaks and wonderfully different coloring…the most beautiful bright smile and eyes that lit up the room…she had a sassy attitude and took care of us just like our daughter use to do…she treated us to their specialty desert…Strawberry Shortcake on Fry Bread…it…like our entire lunch was scrumptious.

There is a bit of a difference with the casinos in Oklahoma…even though they refer to them as RV Parks…the bright lights make it a bit hard to get a good nights sleep…you need to be self-contained since they do not offer any services beyond the hookups…many do allow you to use the Hotels amenities that are located away from the park but for the most part you will need to be able to take care of your personal needs in your own rig.

We can’t complain…our time in Oklahoma did not cost us anything at all…free camping…free entertainment…free meals…free gas…couldn’t ask for anything more.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Moving Through Oklahoma

When we left the Downstream Casino we did not want to get on the toll road so we had to enter Kansas for a few miles then back into Oklahoma. It was also time for us to head south to connect with I-40 for our western route so we chose US-69...terrible choice…without a doubt the roughest…toughest…bounciest…road we have ever been on…didn’t get better until after Muskogee…once on I-40, the ride became tolerable again.

We arrived at the best Casino we have ever been at before…the Fire Lake Grand Casino. Everything about it was inviting…free water and electric hook up site with a nearby dump station (is located right next to the semi trucks but was not a real annoyance)…$10 free play each…free drink station with ice cream included…great buffet with some really unique choices…service was exceptional in every department. It’s the small touches in life that make the entire adventure wonderfully special!

Didn’t want to leave but we needed to move on…had errands to take care of so traveling was on the light side. Our levelers would not go down…lights flicked and then went out totally so we needed to have them looked at but unfortunately the Camping World we went to along with a few other RV Repair Shops in the area were backed up and could not even look at us for a few days. Jerry thinks it’s a fuse but he has checked all that he knows there to be but until we get to another Camping World we will be a bit bouncier.

Be sure to check out our Zee Map for further reviews!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stopping at Downstream Casino - Watching NASCAR

Not part of the plan but we were almost to our planned stop in Miami, Oklahoma when we seen Downstream Casino and decided to stop. We have water and electric…a dump station…and they do not charge anything. We are finding that is the case with many of the Casino RV Parks in Oklahoma and we are taking advantage of it along our route. They also have an excellent Buffet…by getting a Play Card you get $2 off…we were also informed to do the lunch instead of dinner since the price is half as much but is just as good…for under $20 we had a great refreshing, very tasty lunch.

We did mostly Interstate driving again and will continue to do it almost all the way into Phoenix…we are getting much better gas mileage which is a great factor…gas is actually going down as we head West…not usually the case but we hope this trend continues. Gas prices were as low as $3.36 for unleaded and $3.70 for diesel…we have not seen those prices since way before beginning this journey.

We spent Sunday watching NASCAR...congrats to Greg Biffle and recuperating from our travels…plan to get back on the road again on Monday…heading for a Camping World since our levelers just decided to stop working…hopefully it will be a quick fix. It is so funny how you become accustomed to certain things. When we first got our rig, our levelers did not work and it stayed that way for quite a few months before we finally had them looked at and it ended up being a $4 part. Now, a day without them is an inconvenience we do not want to live with for more than a few days…funny how our attitudes change with the circumstances.

This got me thinking about how things seem to change in our lives…when in reality nothing changed but our attitudes. Having a bad day? Change it by changing your attitude…begin again…not by changing the circumstance but by changing how you feel about it…nobody can do it but yourself. We are choosing this more often than ever…yes…we have come a long way!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Imagine Our Dream Life…

Really picture it…every detail…every feeling…attitude…vision it…hear it…taste it…feel it…live it. This was a lesson we read this morning and the funny thing is, as I looked around feeling it from my heart…I realized…we are living it. Oh sure, a nicer, more comfortable rig would be nice…a bigger bank account would certainly be great to have but to be able to see and enjoy a different backyard almost every morning and looking over at the man I love so much just peacefully enjoying the drive…my goodness…we are living our dream. Through it all…the hard times…the easy times…the lean times…the plentiful times…the good weather…the bad weather…the good times…the bad times…doing it all with love and sheer delight in our hearts.

We will never stop dreaming and we hope that each life we touch continues to do the same thing. Living this lifestyle has changed us in so many ways and have made us better people and allowed us to meet so many wonderful people. Thank you for all of our many friends we meet daily and being able to share it all with you has been the greatest part of all.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sightseeing the Gateway Arch

We had a grand time! We decided not to attempt to drive our Jeep over the river since traffic, construction and road closures due to the overflowing Mississippi River but the walk across was too much so we took the MetroLink. It was like riding one of the best roller coasters ever…the speed was exhilarating…the power was stimulating…the view was spectacular over the Mississippi River. The walk to the Gateway Arch was short and safe…many security was visible throughout our sightseeing day trip.

There is a slight delay entering the Arch due to going through a metal detector and search that made us feel even safer. My anxiety and fear of heights got the best of me but it would not ruin Jerry’s opportunity to “Go To The Top” of the Arch. He took the camera and took some really marvelous photos…what a view…he felt so ecstatic for the rest of the day.

While he was going up…I shopped…then we both went through the museum which we found very educational…it had all the information that you could ever want about this very historical area. Be sure to check out Our Photos for all of our photos of our day of sight seeing.

We had lunch at Show-Me’s…located in the Laclede’s Landing area…a restaurant with the same kind of ambiance as Hooter’s…with great food. Laclede’s Landing is a local area that has cobblestone roads and just a great atmosphere about it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Few Days Through Illinois

We now have perfect weather ahead for the next 10 days at least…thank you Mother Nature! Since leaving Hickory Lake CG…we have been in the cold, rain, damp and just uninviting weather…but now this is how we love to travel. Except of course when we encountered the terribly rough roads…wide loads…traffic…construction…through the lower end of Chicago. The last time through this area we took the Interstates with a few deviations through Chicago, so this time we opted to stay clear of the entire area but it wasn’t any easier but we are here now.

We arrived at Empress Casino and found the Oasis RV Park right next to it without a problem…the office was closed even though it was in the middle of the day, so we just hooked up and checked in at the Hotel Desk as many of the Casinos do. The area is huge…a hotel…casino and the RV Park….which stays open until the end of October or when “the water freezes”, whichever comes first as one security guard informed us.

We drove all Interstate from Joliet into East Saint Louis…with only one wrong turn while attempting to find our Exit 2A…it was suppose to be on the left but we got to the left too early and ended up on another Interstate…caught ourselves on two wheels making turns (a little exaggeration, but only a little)…finally found the Casino Queen RV Park and got settled in.

Had a fun time at the Casino that claims to have the loosest slots in the country…we won as usual but we still think the loosest Casino was the Dakota Magic in North Dakota but this one does come close. The buffet was really good with a wide variety and special touches…the workers were absolutely accommodating…very classy place and the best of all is there is “No Smoking” except for in designated areas. It was really nice to have no smoke in our faces and finding ashes everywhere on the machines as we have lately at other Casinos. It is so nice to be non-smokers!

Coming tomorrow…our day sightseeing the Gateway Arch!

If you have to control anything today…let it be your own thoughts and actions.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

RV/MH Museum in Elkhart, Indiana & More

It was drizzly and cloudy when we left Monday morning…remained the same for most of the drive into Elkhart, Indiana…mostly roads less traveled that were great ones. We did some of our necessary chores…cleaned the rig…laundry…drying out as much as possible. During the drive we were so wet on the roof that water began pouring into areas that we had not expected but all is well now that we have dried up some…Tuesday turned into a fabulous weather day…sunny…warm and clear skies.

Checked out the Hart City “RV Park” (term used really loosely)…we were not comfortable at all. It was a gravel parking lot with hookups…no security…nobody there and not in the best of neighborhoods. Drove a few extra miles back to a KOA in Middlebury, Indiana where we knew our rig would be safe when we went sightseeing and it was just a few dollars more. At Hart City they were asking $25 and at the KOA we paid $27...well worth it for a little piece of mind.

The RV/MH Museumwas pretty cool…it made me realize that if for so many years people chose to camp with so much less than we currently have today that I am once again done feeling sorry for ourselves that we do not have the rig of our dreams...WHO CARES…we are doing what we love and if anybody else doesn’t like it or looks down on us…well it’s their problem because we are having the time of our lives. The museum cost is $8 adult / $6 Senior / $3 Children, we had a coupon from a flyer at the KOA Campground that we used so we only paid $6 each. There are photos uploaded at our Picasa webpage, check them out!

We are in Amish Country which gives us another perspective on life…they have their own ideals about life and we respect that and we would never try to tell them they are doing it wrong. We enjoy learning from others, especially the people that choose to be so different from the leading pack as we are doing now.

"Indigo on Seventeen"...we stopped for lunch at a very "posh" restaurant...spent more on lunch then we usually do for dinner but we wanted to try something new and different...this place was just that...see our review for more.

Ike’s Effects Felt As Far As Indiana...campground underwater on Saint Joseph River…rain for more than 3 days has caused many rivers to rise…this one will not be fully crested for a few more days…we will have left the area by then. This is so amazing to see…knowing what these people must be experiencing…a prayer and our thoughts go out to each and everyone that was affected by Ike.

Fun at the Museum ...Having fun wherever we go is part of our new lifestyle…no worries…just good times!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Camper's Prayer


We found this plaque at a KOA in Middlebury, Indiana...it was made by an Amish man...not sure if the poem was written by him or that he just put it on wood...it fits our lifestyle totally!
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rainy Weekend in Frankenmuth

We arrived in the rain and that is how the entire visit remained but we are grateful that we only got remnants of Ike and not his full strength as they got in Texas. Because of all the rain we were unable to visit the streets in Frankenmuth but we were able to do a few of my favorite things…

Many years ago when I was a young girl this place was magical… Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland …not so any longer…instead now it is so commercialized…more merchandising than displays now. Even though it was really nice walking through and imagining what we would have bought if we were still in the stationary home life…we decided we would have needed a big truck to take it all home. They have bulbs, lights, garland, trees (even our favorite black tree), knick knacks, anything and every thing you would need to decorate your space.

Then we had a Bavarian family style meal served at the Bavarian Inn…the atmosphere was so remarkable…the service was perfect…food was delectable…definitely a “Must Do” if ever in the Frankenmuth area.

We stayed at the Pine Ridge RV Campground in Birch Run...a few miles from Frankenmuth...$34 per night but still less expensive than the one other campground in the area...this park is very well kept...sites and roads are flat...trees everywhere...didn't get out much because of ALL the rain but it really looks like a nice park.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Day At Camping World in Houghton Lake

We didn’t want to leave the Little River Casino Resort but we needed to move on to Houghton Lake where we had made an appointment at Camping World to fix the issues with our Even Brake system. It was a nice drive but we were a bit disappointed in the Houghton Lake area. In all the years I lived in Michigan, Houghton Lake was a place where many folks went on and on about how great of a place it was…I had never visited there myself so I just had my own thoughts. For some reason Lake Havasu in Arizona was how I imagined it to be… a plush resort area it definitely is not…very few campgrounds...pretty worn down town.

First campground we stopped at was a bit rundown for charging almost $40 so we went on to the next one which was just as rundown but they accepted the Camp Club USA card which only cost us $15...this we were willing to pay. At West Houghton Lake Campground, the hosts were marvelous…very accommodating…restrooms were clean but very old…the office area was…well…filthy…smelly…dogs were in the yard and continuously barked. We did not want to unhook the Jeep so we were not able to hook up our sewer but a day without a shower is not so bad every once in awhile. We walked across the street to a Restaurant that the host recommended…was good…reasonably priced and service was excellent.

Left early in the morning for our appointment at Camping World…We cannot say enough about this place. We had our Even Brake installed in New York last year and had not worked properly since the first day and it actually began blowing our lights on the rig and the Jeep every time we tried to use it again. They spent over 6 hours fixing what they had bungled in New York but we left with it all working properly and did not cost us anything…so we thought!

Once they completed the work we decided to leave the area because there was not anything left we wanted to see but did not want to drive all the way in the rain to Frankenmuth so we chose to drive to Mount Pleasant where the Soaring Eagle Casino was located. They did not have a RV Park but had an area where they allowed boon docking…again…something we do not care to do but will do it once in awhile. We played, had some fun, ate a good meal at the buffet and didn’t spend any money…actually came away with a few extra dollars. We didn’t stay too long since it was a Friday night and the place was jammed but we didn’t get much sleep due to the noise and lights throughout the night. Also, we noticed the interior lights of our Jeep would not turn off and it was raining…we unhooked the battery for the night and decided we would fix it in the morning.

Wanted to get an early start but first we needed to remove the fuse and then hook up the Jeep in the rain. It was a rainy…foggy…stressful drive but we wanted to get hooked up so we could take showers and just chill out for awhile in Frankenmuth.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Manistee…Sleeping Bear Dunes…Traverse City

My cold got worse so we headed into Sault Ste Marie for medicine and was going to do our laundry there because there were only two washer and dryers at the Bay Mills RV Park and we had about 4 loads…they really add up when you are layering due to the cold weather. We couldn’t find a Laundromat so we picked up chicken noodle soup, cough syrup and drops, and the fixings for grill cheese sandwiches…my cure for all colds…comfort food. Came back to camp and did our laundry here…rainy…wet…soggy kind of day.

Headed out early Tuesday morning towards Manistee hoping to catch some sunny skies…we did! We also found the best RV Park that we have been at in a very long time. We stopped at the Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan and didn’t want to leave. Prices varied…all were level slabs…all included electric, water and cable…some also included sewer…some were back-ins…some pull-throughs…we chose a back-in with no sewer and paid just under $20 with taxes. The restrooms and laundry facilities were modern, clean and open 24 hours. Free coffee, tea and hot cocoa located in the office area where you will also find very professional and friendly associates and where you call for shuttle service to drive you to the Casino. At the Casino you will find a huge assortment of slots and table games and an atmosphere of fun times.

After playing into the wee hours, we still got up early Wednesday and began our scenic drive up and around Traverse City with our first stop at the Sleeping Bear Dunes. This was an amazing area…Check out the photos we added to our Picasa account, they are breathtaking! If you ever find yourself in this area and feel the need for a long drive…this is spectacular and we highly recommend it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Few Point of Interests

We took today and were tourists all day, our first stop was at Point Iroquois Light Station on our way up the Whitefish Bay Scenic Drive. Even though the weather was less than perfect again…this lighthouse is a great place to visit with a lot of history information. There is only a donation charge…viewing the house where “keeping the light” was very demanding for keepers on duty throughout the night was only a part of the adventure. Taking the stroll up the stairs to the lookout tower of the lighthouse was intriguing, as well as walking along the boardwalk exploring the lake…this is a must stop to check out when in the area.

We were not impressed with the “scenic” drive many raved about to our next stop at the upper Tahquamenon Falls. The falls also gave me a lacking feeling as if they somehow became much smaller than I remembered them from my first visit to them many years ago. We have had many other opportunities in the past few years to see many other falls and these just didn’t compare to several, of course none compare to Niagara Falls, but these didn’t even come close to the few we seen on our drive up the North Shore in Minnesota but we enjoyed them anyway. Check out our many photos we have added to our Picasa webpage during this journey.

Our next stop was the Great Lake Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point on Lake Superior and was the most interesting, exciting stop today. The history of this place is pouring out of every building, every person and every rock pebble on the shoreline. It is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior and is magnificently represented in every aspect including the shoreline. The charge was a bit on the high end $12 adult, $8 child, but is worth the price.

On the drive back to our site we stopped at Kings Casino…very small and quiet, nothing like the huge casino at Bay Mills so it was a nice change.

The weather is not cooperating very well so we are taking a day off of sightseeing. Hoping my cold gets better we are having a NASCAR race day indoors. Postponed from a Saturday night race due to massive rain from hurricane Hanna in Richmond, Virginia. It rained off and on throughout the day and we even had a rainbow right over the casino…a sign…probably but we hung out at the campground and rested all day.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Soo Lock Tours & More

Weather was cloudy and cold but no rain so we headed for Sault Ste Marie…planned to take a shortcut but the bridge was out and they detoured us to M-28...more one lane construction in the few miles to I-75.

Once in town we made it to the Soo Locks Boat Tours... we signed up for the 12:30pm departure at a cost of $21 per adult. We had some extra time so we had a snack…the infamous UP Pasty…still not able to find one that is better than my mom’s but some are coming pretty close…we will need to stock up on a few of these before leaving the area.

We came prepared with layers of clothes, hats, and gloves because we wanted to be on top of the boat which was not heated or covered so we used them all but it was worth it. The scenic ride was spectacular...
and going through the Locks was awesome.

Many years ago, I took my daughter on this tour but it was even more spectacular this time around and I really understood the complexity of the entire system and why the need to build them in the first place.

Once we completed the tour, we then wanted to see some of the big ships come into the Locks so we went to view them from the park. This was spectacular as well, we were able to see the Buffalo which was over 600’ but then was able to watch the 1,004’ American Spirit come into the Locks too…WOW!

The Valley Camp Museum Ship was very interesting, educational and is self-toured that costs $10 per adult, $5 per child. The most intriguing part of this museum for me was that it was actually on a ship, made me a bit queasy but not as bad as I anticipated.

To see how they actually cut and placed items into areas where it was apparent that during it’s voyage days was used for more useful purposes, then walking atop the ship and taking some photos of the adjacent marina with a freighter passing by was just so peaceful and calming.

We ate at a really touristy place, named Goetz’s Lockview Restaurant located right across from the park, This place had a great atmosphere about it that was inviting.

The presentation of the food was good but tasting the food was even much better than it looked.

We are also updating our reviews while on the road so be sure to check back often for all of our updates.

We also have many photos to share on our journey so far with many more to come.