Worlds Largest Ball Of Twine

 

Junction City, Kansas  to  Alma, Nebraska

 

We left Junction City this morning and as we left town we passed miles and miles of federal land that belongs to Fort Riley; home of the Big Red 1:  America’s First Infantry.

The Big Red 1.  US Army First Infantry

The Big Red 1. US Army First Infantry

All week long, everywhere we went we saw strong, healthy First Infantry soldiers, all wearing that iconic Big Red 1. It made me proud just to be among them. Junction City is a real Army town. One day we went to lunch at the Family Buffet (best Chinese buffet we have been to in a while!) and there happened to be a gathering, an award luncheon for about 40 or so Big Red 1 soldiers. They were a joy to watch. Lunch over, when we went to pay our bill there was a problem with the restaurant’s credit card machine that caused a huge line of people, mostly infantry, waiting to check out. We stood in the middle of the crowd….surrounded by camouflage…in fact, I think we were the only ones who were visible! Anyway, everyone waited patiently and motioned for us to go first when the problem was corrected. They were all so young and vital…..I was afraid for them……knowing that they’d be the first to go to the next hot spot in the world.

Driving west, we followed Kansas Route 24 – a great road that takes you through northwest Kansas farm land. As we traveled we began to see the first real signs of the old west. Small towns have that “false front” western look and acre after acre of cattle. But the highlight of our trip, just before we headed north toward Nebraska, was a stop in the small town of Cawker, Kansas to see The World Largest Ball Of Twine.

20140729_132425

Cawker City, Kansas….right downtown.

The ball was started by Frank Stoeber in 1953 – just something he decided to do. Today it weighs 17,886 pounds and contains approx. 7,801,766 feet of sisal (whatever that is) twine. His motto was: “Thrift + Patience = Success”.

17,887 pounds of twine!

17,887 pounds of twine!

As I was admiring this large ball of twine, a woman who was sitting near the ball studying it quietly said, “Ya know….there is a bigger ball now. It’s in Europe”.   Well thanks a lot for spoiling my visit! I left hoping that the lady did not burst more bubbles by belittling what poor Frank Stoeber had done.

Our next tourist stop was in Portis, Kansas to visit the memorial of Melvin “Tubby” Miller. Tubby is the animator behind the Looney Tunes legend: Porky Pig! The memorial was erected by Warner Bros. Inc., in appreciation for a job well done. Sorry to say it wasn’t really picture worthy.

We passed into Nebraska and had no trouble finding our home for the next week. We are camped at Methodist Cove on Harlan County Lake near Alma, Nebraska. This is an Army Corps of Engineer park so rates are low for seniors….only $10.00 a night for a very nice 50-amp waterside site.

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

They Were Called “Sliding Boards”

West Rolling Hills Campground at Milford Lake

Army Corps of Engineers

Near Junction City, Kansas

 

We arrived here at West Rolling Hills Campground, just outside of Junction City, Kansas, last Wednesday. We are staying our normal 7-days…till next Tuesday. Seven days if a good length of time to spend in any one campground because that gives us enough time to really get to explore an area and the surrounding towns.

We like arriving on a Tuesday, after the weekend campers have left. This gives us a chance to enjoy the quiet peaceful landscape at each park. Then, we enjoy watching the campsites fill-in starting on Thursday until, by Saturday, the campground is full of excited kids and families again. There is always a mass exodus on Sunday and, once more, we’ll have the lake to ourselves before moving on to our next destination on Tuesday. What a great way to live!

One of the things I loved about West Rolling Hills when we first arrived was the wild, natural Kansas prairie that surrounds the campground. The smell of wild flowers is heavenly. There are mowed paths through the prairie grasses that lead you to the lake or the showers. I snapped this photo of the natural prairie just opposite our campsite.   We have the lake in our front yard and this wonderful grassland as our backyard.

Natural Prairie at West Rolling Hills campground near Junction City, Kansas.

Natural Prairie at West Rolling Hills campground near Junction City, Kansas.

A couple of days ago, we heard the sounds of tractors and farm equipment off in the distance. On our walk that day, we watched like city-slickers as the farmers first mowed and then raked the prairie  into long winding heaps of fresh cut grass and flowers. Then along came the bailers….and all of that beautiful wild Kansas prairie was rolled into big bales of hay.   This went on all day until….just before dusk….they moved into our backyard. My beautiful purple and green grassland is now a picture perfect farmer’s field of round bales of hay….. still pretty but, I miss the wild landscape.

Freshly baled hay.

Freshly baled hay.

Yesterday, we hiked a 2-mile nature trail that took us into an older, now closed, section of this park where there used to be campsites. Although the area is still mowed, it looked to us like it has been closed to visitors for maybe 10 years or more.   There we came upon a 50’s era children’s playground – the same kind they used to have at schools and in parks way-back-when we were kids.

No child today would be allowed anywhere near these suicide machines!   Note the “spinner in the left side of the photo: you (and 10 other kids) would grab a small hold on the metal pipe and run for all you were worth around in circles till someone let go and went spiraling off into the weeds. Everyone else would stumble around dizzy. The metal sheeted “sliding board” brought back fond memories of burnt thighs and hard tailbone braking landings. I confess that I still call the modern fun plastic “slides” they have today “sliding boards” and, every time I do, our granddaughters look at me like I’m from another planet….maybe I am.

I think the seats on the swings were upgraded. I remember most had splinter covered wooden seats.

7-26 RollingHIlls Retro Playground2

We didn’t hang around long because the day was really heating up. When we got back to our motorhome around 1:00 pm the temp was 105 degrees with a “feels like” 109 warning….. no campfire tonight.

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

General Delivery? No So Fast!

Slough Creek Campground on Perry Lake
Perry, Kansas
We have been camped at Perry Lake in Kansas for a week.  This part of Kansas is very rural in spite of the fact that Perry is just about half-way between Kansas City and Topeka.
Trees growing in old silos. Perry, Kansas.

Trees growing in old silos.
Perry, Kansas.

We left Perry on Wednesday ….a day later than planned…… and traveled about100 miles west to another Army Corps Campground near Milford Lake – still Kansas. Temps are extreme …hovering around 100 degrees with the “feels like” at 109!While we were here I had a strange encounter with the US Post Office in Perry. Since we are full-time RV and obviously don’t have a regular mailbox, occasionally we need to have our mail or other items shipped to us wherever we happen to be. So far we have had things sent to campgrounds which works fine if they have full time staff in an office. ..no good at many places where staff is volunteer or part-time. So, for the first time we decided to try the US Post Office General Delivery Service. It is suppose to be simple…you just order something and use the closest US Post Office address for delivery with your name and USPS GENERAL DELIVERY as the addressee.

We wanted to order a couple of things from Amazon including a new pair of Teva Sandles for me (Pretty Rugged Leather…Nice!). Anyway, I called the Perry PO before placing the order to make sure that that was how it worked…all was fine. Order placed; we sat back and monitored all of the package tracking stops (aren’t computers great) that our shipment made until, on Tuesday morning, we got that wonderful, “Your Package was Delivered” text.

Perfect! Right on time! Our plan was to pick up the package, check-out of our campground, and head west to our next stop at Mitford lake where our reservation check-in was Tuesday night.

Not So Fast. We got to the Perry Post Office….it was closed for lunch at 12:00…reopening at 1:30. That’s ok. Lots of small town PO’s do that because they aren’t very busy and they have limited staff. We waited in town….watched a couple of trains….and went back at 1:30. Five minutes later the door opened and I happily went inside and, being the only person there, stepped up to the counter, and told the lady my name and that I had a General Delivery package (big smile on my face).

“Who told you you could do that!?”

(Crest fallen) “Well, I called here and spoke to a woman and asked how it worked….”

“You didn’t talk to me….there are lots of people in and out of here. What makes you think your package is here?”

“I tracked it and got a notice that it was delivered”, I said as I got out my phone. “it was delivered at 9:15″.

“Let Me See That”. She takes my phone and starts scrolling through the Amazon package info. “Well, all this means is that it’s sitting out back on the loading dock! It has not been received here! I am the only person here and I have not been able to check packages in yet…..I don’t HAVE to have those packages checked in till tomorrow morning!

“Well…. (I’m getting irritated now) we planned to leave town today so what are my options?”.

“Where are you….out at the lake? You don’t have any options”. We close at 4:30 and I don’t know if I will get your package checked in by then or not….I don’t even know if you HAVE a package here” .

“I guess that means that I am at the mercy of your schedule”, I responded.

“I guess you could say that.”

“Can I give you my phone number in case you should stumble across it today?”

Ok, but I don’t HAVE to process it for pick-up till tomorrow morning.

We went back to the lake and arranged to stay another night….knowing that we will have to forfeit a night at our reserved campsite. To give her credit….the post office lady did call me at 4:15 to let me know that I did receive a package and I could pick it up today if I could get there by 4:30…not a minute later!

We picked the package up on Wednesday  morning on our way out of town. I got a Very Chilly reception at the Post Office…..guess they don’t like strangers in Perry, Kansas.

Thanks For Riding Along,
Coll

 

The Mississippi Is Rising!

Mississippi River Campground

Trail of Tears State Park

Jackson, Missouri

 

Ferne Clyffe Bluff

We spent the last week at Ferne Clyffe State Park near Tunnel Hill, Illinois. Ted’s sister Ann and her husband Al own a large property well off the beaten path and that is where our branch of the Garringer Family gather every year for a mini reunion. It is always an exciting couple of days and this year was no different. Activities included hiking, rock climbing, and the brave (or fool hardy among us) tackled a zip line …. 3-lines that send you hurling through the Southern Illinois outback at 40-miles an hour. The “Fools On’a Mission” have wised up a little… we passed on the zip-line.

Mississippi River at campground. The strip of land that Ted is standing on is now underwater.

Mississippi River at campground. The strip of land that Ted is standing on is now underwater.

While we were there, we planned the next move in our slow journey west – we made reservations to spend a week relaxing and hiking at the Trail of Tears State Park near Jackson, Missouri. We stopped there last year and really enjoyed the campground, which is right on the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, when we checked in at the campground yesterday they told us that we could only stay 2-days because the Old Mississippi is rising and by Thursday afternoon the campground road will be underwater. Too bad! So, the first thing we did was decide where we’d go next….after studying the map for maybe….a couple of minutes….we decided to make reservations at an Army Corps of Engineers Campground near Hannibal, Missouri – one of my favorite places.

Ok, with that taken care of, we concentrated on enjoying the Mississippi River while we could and taking care of a little housekeeping. Today we drove into Cape Girardeau where we found a Laundromat and a Lowes.

For a while now, Ted has been thinking about buying an air compressor so that he can easily add air to the motorhome and Jeep tires…you gotta take care of your feet! That purchase always ended up on our “nice to have – but not critical” shopping list, until we installed the wireless tire monitoring system. That system give you peace of mind when you’re driving a large vehicle and towing a car that you can’t easily see. The system has monitors that attach to each tire (6-motorhome; 4-jeep). The monitors keep a watch on air pressure in every tire and give you a beeping warning if the pressure changes significantly in any of the tires. And, it seems that one of our Jeep tires keeps leaking air.

Well, it is all well and good to know when you need air in a tire…but not so easy to get air when you can’t fit into just any gas station; let alone find one that has an air pump machine that works and is accessible in a large motorhome. Ted bought a 3-gallon Kobalt Air Compressor that can pump up to 150 psi and is small enough to fit into one of our storage bays. I am sure that the air compressor will come in handy not only for us but for other campers who my need a little air.

So tomorrow we will evacuate as instructed and head north to visit the land of Mark Twain…maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of Tom, Becky and Huckleberry!

Thanks for Riding Along,

Coll

The Class Of ’66 Turns 66

Blackwell Forest Preserve

Warrenville, Illinois

 

We spent the weekend camped at the Blackwell Forest Preserve near Naperville, Illinois. This preserve has the ONLY Campground in the Western Chicago Suburbs and, it is only open for camping on Friday and Saturday nights. What brought us here?   Ted’s 48th reunion of the Lisle Community High School Class of 1966! Or, as it was titled, “The Class of ’66 Turns 66!

Class of '66 Turns 66!

Class of ’66 Turns 66!

“You Can Get Your Kicks with the Class of ’66″!  I graduated in the Class of ’69. You can just imagine what our “tag line” was.

They had a good turn-out considering that the classmates have scattered all across the country and….well….they Are 66! Everyone gathered for a “meet and greet” on Friday night. Lots of laughs trying to recognize old friends without obviously looking at the name tags. It’s funny, at first you don’t recognize the person at all…. then, within minutes of talking with them, the years melt away and you can see that girl that you dated way back when….or the guy you went on a motorcycle trip to Iowa with….right Mike! (Ted and old friends Mike S and Gary S had a few stories to share).

Saturday night was the banquet and where more out-of-towners appeared. Here are John Govi and Ted reliving the glory days….

John Govi and Ted Garringer

John Govi and Ted Garringer

We had to leave the party early because the campground at the Forest Preserve locks the gates at 9:30 sharp and if you’re not back by then your motorhome turns into a pumpkin and you can’t get in till the next morning. We sailed through the gates at 9:26….whew!

A Sunday picnic at the Lisle Community Park wrapped up the weekend. It was more relaxed and by then most of us “spouses” felt like we knew people too.

Steve Ferrin, Bob Renn and Ted Garringer

Steve Ferrin, Bob Renn and Ted Garringer

We had to check out of the campground by 12:00 so we arrived at the picnic in our “house”.   It was fun showing people through our home on wheels.

By 3:30 it was all over for another year and we were on Interstate 57 heading south to our next reunion: the Frank and Connie Garringer Siblings and Family Annual 4th of July SheeeBang!

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

Embrace The Pace

At The Newmar Motor Home Factory

Nappanee, Indiana

 

We are currently enjoying an extended stay at the Newmar Corporation campground in Nappanee, Indiana. Our Ventana is made by Newmar – one of the top-of-the line manufacturers of motor homes. Here in Nappanee, you can tour their plant (we highly recommend that) and stay in their on site parking lot campground for free. We have taken them up on this offer before and enjoyed our stay here in Amish country so much that it is now on our “gotta stop” list if our route happens to take us anywhere near northern Indiana.

Nappanee’s motto is “Embrace The Pace” and we do. Being in Nappanee is like going back in time. The town is rich in history and home to a large community of Amish and Mennonite families that have been here for generations. In fact, the Newmar Corporation is owned by a Mennonite family – the Millers, and about 60% of their workforce are Amish. I am happy to report that 90% of the employees who build all of the cabinetry for the motor homes are Amish. In fact, we learned that about 90% of all the exterior parts and interior furnishings (minus appliances) are built right here on Newmar’s 50-acre property. They also do all of the design, testing and exterior painting on site.

Employees start reporting to work around 5:00 AM in the morning….many arrive by horse and buggy – even more come to work on bicycles. This is not unusual for this town. Everywhere you go you see families in buggies. We love just finding a spot to sit in town to watch the buggies go by. Nappanee provides small lean-to’s where people can safely park their horse and buggy when they come to shop.

Public Stable in Nappanee, Indiana

Public Stable in Nappanee, Indiana

Yesterday we took a walk down a side road that goes past the Newmar property. We were surprised when just around the corner we came upon an Auction House with a produce and hay auction in progress. It was well attended. We stopped to watch for a while.

Amish Parking Lot

Amish Parking Lot

In the auction barn.

In the auction barn.

Waiting Patiently

Waiting Patiently

I tried not to be too conspicuous taking these photos. I do respect the Amish and their privacy but I’m afraid I’m turning into one of those people who follow buggies…..my sister-in-law Lynn calls it “stalking the Amish”. I’ll try not to get caught peeping in windows….

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

Noah’s Lost Ark

Army Corps of Engineer’s

Mill Creek Campground

Berlin Center, Ohio

 

After spending more than 4-weeks in Groton, Connecticut with our family….wouldn’t trade that time for anything….we are back on the road and currently camped at an Army Corps of Engineers Campground on Berlin Lake in Ohio. We are kind-of cooling our heels here, timing our trip, because we need to be in Lisle, Illinois at the end of the month (more on that later).

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon with underprivileged Lions, Tigers and Bears at Noah’s Lost Ark exotic animal sanctuary; where the forgotten are remembered – www.noahslostark.org.

Noah's Lost Ark:  www.noahslostark.com

Noah’s Lost Ark: www.noahslostark.com

Unlike a zoo, the sanctuary is a place that provides a permanent, safe home to unwanted and abused exotic animals. It is a no-kill facility solely dependent on donations and admission fees – and believe me, the $9.00 per adult admission fee is a bargain to help support these animals—in fact after touring the facility you want to give more. These animals are here because, for the most part, they got too big and too expensive to care for.   Noah’s Lost Ark is home to 125 exotic animals including 50 big cats! Some were brought here by caring owners who could no longer keep them…..many were found abandoned and in deplorable conditions….ALL were nursed back to health and given a clean, comfortable place to live out their lives stress free.   Wolves, bears, lions, tigers, monkeys, cougars, leopards, a camel….you name it…it’s here.

Here are just a couple of the heartbreaking stories:

6-18 Noahs Lost Ark Lionus

That’s actually a tiger in the background.

6-18 Noahs Lost Ark Jax 3

We wandered around the sanctuary for a couple of hours marveling at the wonderful care these animals were receiving….can only imagine how much it must cost to feed and tend all of the inhabitants.

6-18 Noahs Lost Ark Camel6-18 Noahs Lost Ark Peacock back

And our favorite: Kenny. Kenny is the King of the Jungle! We were told that he was raised as a house pet till his owners finally realized that he was going to be too big to handle. He is now 2-years old and practicing his ROAR. In fact, they say you can hear Kenny’s ROAR two miles away…..and in our campground which is only about a mile from the sanctuary. We found him asleep in his pen…..laying on his back….feet twitching as he dreamed. Big cats sleep 16 to 20 hours a day! As you can see by this photo, he is very relaxed and growing well.

Kenny: The King Of The Jungle!

Kenny: The King Of The Jungle!

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Moving To Facebook

Hello All,

I opt for “simple” in everything we do.  For that reason, we have decided that maintaining this website is just too time-consuming and, at times, too difficult…frankly, I’d rather be hiking!

We have been posting our logs on both this website and on Facebook and, we have noticed that most of our friends and fellow travelers prefer to read our posts on our Facebook page….www.facebook/Fools On’a Mission.   You can too!  Just log-on to Facebook and “like” our page:  Fools On’a Mission.

I  will be closing this website in a couple of days.  I hope that you will continue to Ride Along With Us on Facebook.

Coll and Ted

Trains, Chocolate and Roller Coasters

Hershey Camping Resort

1200 Sweet Street

Hummelstown, PA

Texas to Tennessee; Tennessee to Virginia; Virginia to Pennsylvania…..we made it to the sweetest place on earth:  Hershey Park Pennsylvania!  Well actually, we are at the Hershey Camping resort which is in the little town of Hummelstown – about ½ mile from Hershey Amusement Park.  We are happily surprised to find that Spring has arrived in Pennsylvania – today was 60 plus degrees and sunny. So nice in fact that the first thing Ted did once we were settled in our campsite (cable, sewer, water and 50-amp) was to wash the Ventana Windshield.  Unfortunately, he did not realize that the dash cam was still running…..I laughed so hard I cried when I saw this video!

The campground is pretty empty today (Thursday) but it will be full this weekend because this is the first weekend of the 2014 season that Hershey Amusement Park is open.  We expect to watch a steady stream of campers pull in tomorrow.  The campground is really nice.  There are quite a few cabins on the property for people who want to camp in-doors.  In Season, they have evening entertainment for kids….movies, personalities, and lots of roasted marshmallows.  There are three swimming pools; a basketball court; volley ball, swings and playground, horse shoes…… all of the traditional campground activities. Looks like a great place for kids to be kids. But the icing on the cake for Ted is that a very active railroad line runs along the perimeter of the campground.  When making our reservation last winter, the person on the phone warned me that some of the sites were close to the rail line.  “We’ll Take One Of Those!”, I said.  Ted loves trains and there is nothing that makes him happier than the vibration and loud, clakety, clakety, clack of a train speeding past in the night.  I am happy to report that he is not disappointed. The best is yet to come.  Tomorrow night our family arrives to spend the night with us here at the campground.  I can hardly wait to see those beautiful girls! Thanks for Riding Along Coll

Back To Long Pants!

Natchez Trace State Park

Pin Oak Campground

Lexington, Tennessee

 

On Friday, after the big storm, we left Texas and started our slow trek east. That first day we drove about 200-miles and spent the night at a Walmart in Arkansas. Saturday we hit the road fairly early heading toward Memphis and points east. It was a perfect driving day weather-wise but the traffic was crazy once we hit Memphis. It seems that Memphis is always under construction and today was no different …. roadwork going on all around us. We managed to make it safely through the big city but met up with more crazy drivers as we headed deeper into Tennessee. This is a clip of a car that cut in front of us trying to get around a tractor-trailer. Unfortunately, the semi also cut over at the same time. I have to admit that this was a lot scarier in person than it is on the video.

Then there was a “Wide Load” that was speeding along passing traffic.   He came up on our left out of nowhere!  Ted drove off on the shoulder to make sure he could pass us without clipping our mirror.

Our goal for Saturday (and Sunday) night was the Natchez Trace State Park.  We picked it off the map because it was right off of I-40 so we wouldn’t have to travel too far off course.  And, the State park is literally right off an exit on I-40.  Unfortunately, the RV
campground is deep inside the State Park Forest… 15-miles down a back-winding
road.  At one point we thought we were off track so we decided that we’d better turn around…..nowhere to turn around…..finally we came to a dirt road leading to a riding stable at the Wrangler Horse Campground.   Ted pulled in and we found ourselves rounding the barn right behind a horse trailer.  Note the horses and riders on the side of the farm road.  They were a little surprised to see us there.

Thankfully we were able to make it back to the main road heading back the way we came in.  Fifteen minutes later we had to turn around again and retrace our path back to the horse barn because that was the right way after all!

Lucky for us we found the RV Campground before we were totally burnt out.  It was a stressful day but the campground turned out to be very nice and relaxing.  It is right on Pin Oak Lake – a beautiful spot.

Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace State Park near Lexington, Tennessee

Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace State Park near Lexington, Tennessee

This morning, we put away our shorts and dug our Jeans out of the bottom of the drawer.  As you can see by this photo, we are back to early spring here in Tennessee – no leaves on the trees yet.

We decided to stay here till Tuesday because tomorrow is going to be a wash-out day all along our route north and there is no reason for us to drive in a rain storm.   We’ll just wait it out.

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll