Monday, July 30, 2007

Joliet to Minneapolis

These pics are traveling north on 61 in Minnesota. It is really a pretty area. We "boondocked "(camped free with no hookups) in Onalaska, Wisconsin Saturday evening at WalMart. For the first time since we left I felt really uncomfortable with a homeless guy who walked up to the coach as I was washing the windshield at WalMart. He said he had never seen the inside of a coach - and I got this really strong feeling to get out of the situation. I put my stuff away and he left. I have had other homeless approach us when we're stopped and I felt no danger - but with this guy it was different. We've been at the Mystic Lake casino Sunday night and tonight. We will be leaving Minneapolis, MN area tomorrow and traveling north to Duluth, MN to see some pretty scenery there. Once again, we might see some bear and moose. Cool! We’ll be going with Joe and Carol Alessi in our MH’s. This should be a fun trip. Joe and Carol had us over Sun eve for dinner at their home and they overfed us – they should feel guilty! We had three huge racks of ribs, chicken fajitas and corn on the cob as well as all the fixins’ and lemon cake for dessert. Then we played cards and had a great time.
Until now if you tried to reply to a post, it wouldn't let you. I changed a setting and you should be able to do so without joining Google now. We hope we hear from you.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Leaving Joliet

7.28.07 Joliet
After our two days in Chicago, Kim’s parents Maurice and Judy came to the MH Tuesday evening and spent the night and Wednesday with us. We mostly played cards and visited. We grilled hamburgers and just had a good time together. It was really good to spend time with them again. My good friend and financial advisor Joe Goeglein came Wed evening and we did some business and then went out to eat and watched a movie. He stayed with us overnight and left Thursday morning. It was really good to see him.
Last night we got some neighbors who came over to visit. They have a Newell Coach which is one of the best built coaches. Their names are Michael and Georgia. They have been full timers 6.5 years and travel with an Irish wolfhound named Patrick. I have a satellite receiver called a DataStorm which receives and sends internet and also receives Direct TV. Michael is one of the 25 original beta testers for this system. He is also a moderator for a web page which is a very helpful forum for DataStorm users. I have used it before and it is very helpful. Michael came into our MH and looked over the software settings and made a few adjustments and explained some things to me. He is very knowledgeable and just as nice. Georgia is a consultant and is just a very nice person to talk to. They invited us into their coach and we visited till after ten. It was interesting that their coach was for built and owned by Al Unser Jr.
We are leaving Joliet, Il this AM for the Minneapolis area where we will meet our friends Joe and Carol Alessi and travel with them and their MH to Duluth, MN for a week. They want to show us the northern part of Minnesota. They said we may see bear and moose. That would be fun. We will take two days to travel 430 miles to Minneapolis and then travel north to Duluth.
Hannah is coming home from Uganda August 10th and we will be flying her to Bismarck, ND to be with us a few days. It will be good to hear her story of her trip. She has been working with Aids orphans for seven weeks. We will be with her Sat night thru Tuesday evening. We are looking forward to being with her again. Also, attached is a picture of Kim and I operating the tram at the Holiday Rambler rally in Du Quoin, IL a few weeks ago. We wore our red, white and blue outfits we had purchased for riding motorcycles in parades. The people enjoyed the outfits and commented on them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Sidewalk Performer, Montomery Ward Building (Back Right), Debrevic's Waiter and our server (acting bored)

We went to Chicago for a few days with Kim’s parents, Maurice and Judy. We went to the Cheese Factory and had a great meal (and of course, cheesecake) and then on a Chicago River architectural tour. We rode on the top deck of a boat and a tour guide talked for 90 minutes nonstop. We learned such interesting facts such as the Montgomery Ward’s building has concrete corners to avoid the status trap of the “corner office” (see picture). This was Mister Montgomery’s theory. Instead, the corners house the elevators. We also saw 4.5 million dollar condos and they have to pay a onetime fee of $60,000.00 if they want a parking space in the parking garage. It is a very interesting tour.
I especially appreciate the sidewalk performers. There was a drummer, sax and flute soloist at different locations, but the thing that interests me most are the ones that paint themselves up with gold or silver paint and act like they are robots. The guy in the above pic was really good. A kid was passing by and they got into a dancing contest. There was a lot of the moonwalk type stuff where it looks like their feet are floating on air. It was so good!
Tonight we went to Ed Debevic’s Restaurant. It is a 50’s style restaurant and while the food is good, the main attraction is that the employees are very rude. When we walked in, the insults started. There are many witty signs on the wall like, “If you find a better diner, eat there” and as you leave there is a sign above the door that says, “Keep Chicago clean. Wipe your feet”. Other signs include: “Eat and get out” and “Don’t eat with your mouth full”. Judy and asked for water with lemon and the waiter said, “Yea, good luck on the lemon.” and there was no lemon when the water came. The waiter just acted like it was a big pain that we were there. The staff danced to the tune of “Get up off of that thing”. They got up on the soda bar and danced. Some people walked in and sat down and a waiter yelled angrily clear across the restaurant, “I’m your waiter and I’ll be there when I’m good and ready!” Actually, it was a very fun experience.
We are staying in the Hyatt Regency which has 2500 rooms and no internet service. Well, they have it; I just can’t get it to work. Bad news: Rooms are $280.00 per day. Good news! Maurice got the rooms on Priceline for $82.00. Bad News: They charge $45.00 per day to store our car. Good News: Maurice asked for complimentary breakfast buffet which they gave us – a $22.00 value per meal times 4 people times two days.
Tuesday at 12:30 PM we got back to the coach. Home Sweet Home! I really missed not being here. We’ll be here a few days and then on to Minnesota – or we may go home for a few days as our son Ben (23) has a home he is interested in purchasing and wants our opinion. Our daughter Hannah (22) just called and will be coming home from mission work in Uganda, Africa August 10th instead of the 19th. Nothing is wrong, the people from Taylor University suggested their schedule was tight to get to school in time and they have to write a ten page paper about their experience. I think we will fly her out to meet us somewhere. We will have to figure out where we will be at that time and make the flight plans.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Roy Clark

Roy Clark

Last night we saw Roy Clark in concert here at the rally. While I’m sure that at 74 he has lost a little if his stamina, he still has more musical talent in his little finger than I’ll ever have. He is an extraordinary entertainer. I kept thinking of the stage phrase, “Go out there and make em’ love you”. That’s just what Roy does. He still has that ornery smile, corny jokes and makes good eye contact with individuals from the crowd. Another thing he does is that he surrounds himself with great young talent. Justin Davis is just an incredible talent. The rally we are at is good but the meeting rooms for seminars are too small. Yesterday we went to three different meetings and all were so full we couldn’t get in. Oh well. It’s about 90 every day so we just sit under the awning and visit with others or stay in the coach where it is nice and cool.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Governor and Me

Kim Paying Bills via the internet and our corner lot next to the governor.

We went to a small campground about 20 miles from DuQuoin on Friday night. There we met up with some of our Elkhart friends from our home chapter of HRRVC. We caravanned in Saturday morning with nine RV’s. If you come in together they will park you together. It was fun. We had the CB’s on and had a great time. We are all parked in one lot and they gave me this huge corner area. It just so happens that the driveway to the Illinois Governor’s mansion is right across the street from me. One week I am just a homeless person; the next week I am rubbing elbows with the governor. Someone called us moderately affluent homeless people. Our friends from Elkhart are really cool. Rose Mary is a hoot and always a lot of fun. She has this handicapped scooter and I am always hoping to find the key in it is I can take it for a test drive. She know this and guards the key. Keith and Jill are lots of fun and Jill is always looking for something exciting to do. When she wants Keith to come back to the Motor home she honks the air horns. Keith is just an easy guy to get to know and is fun to talk to. They have two of those electric two wheeled carts (Segway) you stand on and they transport you around. Marv and Sally Miller are parked next to us. They are experienced RV’ers and look after us. They have a wealth of knowledge and are just the greatest friends. The rally officially starts tonight and we are looking forward to it. I am going golfing with the guys this AM. Roy Clark will be entertaining tomorrow eve.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Headed for International Rally at DuQuoin, IL

We will be leaving Springfield today and meeting with some friends from Elkhart tonight at a campground outside DuQuoin, IL. Tomorrow we will go into the International Holiday Rambler Rally together. If we go in together then we can park together and be beside each other for the week. I have heard that there will be 2000 RV's there but then heard there were only 650 signed up. We'll see. I'm glad I brought my tools. I fixed three electrical problems on people's RV's this week. It is good to help others. The old farmer in me wants to help his neighbor. I'll write again when we are settled at the rally.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Abraham Lincoln and Caterpillar

Kim and I with the Lincoln Family

Yesterday we went to the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library here in Springfield, IL. Everyone should visit this museum. The presentations are so modern. There are times when you think the presentation is a real person and not a media presentation. I came away learning a few things. One thing was that most everyone opposed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The blacks thought it was too lenient and the whites thought it was too strong. Lincoln gave his life for his country even before he was assassinated. He had an ideal and wouldn’t sway from it. Another fact is that Lincoln finally got some relief from the civil war when Lee surrendered – just 6 days before his assassination. One other thing is that two years before Lincoln’s death, his son Robert fell down beside a railroad car at a station and was pulled up by another young man. The man who did this was John Wilkes Booth’s brother. The museum made me appreciate my freedom and the price that was paid by our patriots.
Today we visited the Caterpillar diesel engine plant in Peoria. They make over 500 engines a day. It was a fascinating place. The robots were amazing. There are so many robots that are supervised by so few workers. The engines start down the line with just an engine block that is from the foundry and the machines drill all the holes and thread everything. It is just quite amazing. They used to have 15% failure (of some sort) in the test room. Now they have a wet test system that spins the motor at 600 RPM (with no fuel) but computers check over 300 things and find faults before the engine is fully assembled and this catches reoccurring problems earlier on the line and also cuts the engine failure in the test room to under 5%. Engine test time is reduced and this saves them lots of diesel fuel.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Helen Keller and Horseshoes

Mitch's "Horseshoe" the Clydesdale
We are enjoying the rally and the new friends we are making. I keep thinking how much my mom would love what we are doing. There are so many nice people to meet. Yesterday I brought the message at the rally. Afterwards Kim and I went to a restaurant called Culvers, then Wal-Mart. Joe and Carol had taken us to a Culvers restaurant in Minneapolis. They have really good root beer floats. While there I struck up a conversation with a local man. I asked him what we should do in the area that we couldn’t do at home. His teenage son said we should try “Horseshoes”. He said it is a piece of Texas toast with one of about five meats and then french fries and cheese over it. We tried Pasties in the U. P., so we thought we would give a horseshoe a try. This is the type of fun thing we like to do on the trip.
Yesterday at three PM we left as a group and went to a settlement called New Salem where Abe Lincoln lived for about six years (1831 – 1837) after he left Indiana and lived until he was elected into public office. It was interesting. They had people in character and dress of that day in the homes and buildings answering questions. One lady told that to be a cooper (barrel maker), or a blacksmith the apprenticeship was 5 years. For an attorney it was about one year and to be a Dr. just 6 months (and there was no formal training – just the apprenticeship). My nephew Andy could have saved a lot of money if he were born 150 years earlier.
After the museum we went out to eat and got our horseshoe dinner. I got a Clydesdale, which is two pieces of bread with two meats. I decided to get Philly beef and breaded tenderloin. It was really good, but too big. I couldn’t eat it all. Kim got a pony (one slice of bread and one meat) and couldn’t eat all of hers either. It was a heart attack on a platter. Like I said, it tasted really good though.
Next we went to an outdoor theatre to see The Miracle Worker. It is a play about the life of Helen Keller. While it was a great play, it wasn’t the kind you sit back and enjoy. Helen was like a caged animal in that she wanted to get her feelings out, but only knew of negative ways until a young girl named Ann Sullivan came to teach her. Ann was perplexed as to how to reach Helen, but of course in the end she did. It really made me realize how I take my ears and eyes for granted. We rode with Walt and Judy Kaiser to the play and on the way home he said part of his police training was that they gave them each a handicap for a day. He said it was very challenging.
Today (Mon.) we go to the Presidential Library and Museum and tomorrow we go to Peoria to the Caterpillar engine plant and have a potluck that eve. Wed we have men’s and lady’s luncheons and Thursday eve is our farewell meal. We love and miss our friends and family. We heard it is dry back home and you need rain. We will pray for that.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Casinos, Wiring, Friends and Horses

Pics - Arabian Horse. Steve, Dee, Mitch, Kim and Zoe (the dog), Mitch and Steve in the Miata, Kim at Terrible's casino and Mitch & Kim at Steve's.

Casinos, Wiring, Friends and Horses
We went from Minneapolis to Olathe, KS to spend a few days with Kim’s Uncle Steve and his wife Dee. They are just such nice people! Steve has had some heart problems and the Dr. doesn’t want him on a ladder so I was able to help out by wiring his new 30 X 40 shed. I have all my tools with me as this is the kind of thing we want to do on our trip. We just want to be able to serve others. Steve and Dee were so appreciative but God blesses the giver more than the receiver. It was just so nice to be able to help them out. I told Kim on the way there that they would really make us feel at home – and they did. We really had a great time with them.
On the way to Olathe we were looking for a cheap place to just stay for the night. We stumbled upon a Casino called Terrible’s. Well we didn’t exactly stumble upon it as they had a hundred fifty foot tall sign out by the road that was all lit up. To make a long story short, we could stay there for $20.00 for the night. We had to go into the casino to get a voucher though. I saw a Harley in the parking lot and noticed that his front axle cap (that holds the front wheel on) had a loose bolt. I wrote a note on the back of one of our cards and left it on his bike. He called me the next day and thanked me for possibly saving his life. He said he didn’t know how I happened to notice it. I told him I was a member of CMA (Christian Motorcyclist Association) and that what we do is look out for each other. He said he rode with the Silver Wings and that every year CMA members come to their rides. His name was Rick Laird.
Kim and I were eating in the Casino when a guy came up to us and told us he liked our shirts. We then noticed we were wearing T-shirts that said “Who do you think that I am” on the front and “I am the way, the truth and the life” on the back. I think we had on the only Christian shirts in the Casino. Kim and I don’t gamble – so all this casino stuff is new to us. We had to go get a players card to get the cheap camping rate and they gave us $15.00 worth of free slot pay on the card. It is like a credit card. Steve told us we could have put the card in a slot machine and pressed the cash button and gotten the money. Oh well, that’s what we get for being ignorant of such things.
After a few days in Olathe we made the trip to Springfield, IL in just a day. It is 350 miles and that is about all I like to go in a day. That won’t be the norm for the trip. About 200 miles is a comfortable day. Kim went in to pay for the fuel while I was shutting down the pump and when she returned to the coach, she came in and immediately locked the door behind her. I asked her what was wrong and she said there was a man standing outside the truck stop and when she walked out he told her, “You sure are a beautiful lady”. It gave her the creeps. Now I have started asking her if she knows she is a beautiful lady.
We are in Springfield at the State Fairgrounds (IL has two state fairgrounds – one also in DuQuoin) and we will be there next week for the international rally for the Holiday Rambler RV Club (HRRVC). We are here to be with Chapter 400 “Full Timers” of the HRRVC. To be a member you must own a Holiday Rambler RV and live in your RV. You can’t own a home. When you live in your RV full time you are considered “Full Timers” – original huh – wish I’d thought of it. We got here a little after 4 PM last night and got set up and went out to eat with the people in the club. It is a great group of people and we will enjoy getting to know them. Diverse – last night our chapter president Walt was telling how he used to buy drugs using food stamps, alcohol and even steaks. He said he did that for many years – and then he blew the whole image I had of him when he said he was an undercover officer. I guess we’re not quite as diverse group as I thought. Walt is an interesting person and I look forward to building a friendship with him.
Here at the fairgrounds they are having an Arabian horse show. My mom would love it. The horses are so beautiful and majestic. When they get in the arena they go into a performance mode. It is like watching living art. Majestic, proud, beautiful, poetry in motion, regal, elegant, gentle yet spirited – these are just a few of the words that might describe the horses. Kim and I walked down to the horse area because we heard a vendor had root beer floats. I struck up a conversation with a lady and she answered our questions. She said this meeting was one of many divisions in the US and that many of the people own just a horse or two and pay professional stables to keep, train and care for the horses. Another person said he pays $5,000.00 per month for the stable to take care of his 2 horses. This really nice lady took us into their stable area and showed us her horse. She then showed us a horse that was bought last year for $130.000.00. While I appreciate horses, I’ve never really been a horse enthusiast. These horses are so different from and I’ve ever seen that I really love to be around them. I hope to go down to the arena and get a pic to put in this blog. The 400 rally doesn’t really start until 4 today so that will give me time to get a few things done on the coach and go see the horses. Update: We went to see the horses again and learned a few things/ They show in many different classes. The competition we saw was young riders and a man said the horses in that class cost from $2,500.00 to $100,000.00. That is quite a range. He also said people don't really own the horses in the hopes to make money, but rather it is a hobby. We talked to some owners who'se daughter was riding and they were really nice. It seems the owners are pretty much affluent people, yet ready to talk about the horses and very friendly. We met two ladies who owned horses and they said, "We don't have any money - we own horses". Overall - a wonderful unexpected experience to see the horses and talk to the people. When we left Indiana we never imagined we would see something like this and be so intrigued.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Getting ready to go down the road

You may be wondering what is involved in getting our rig ready to travel down the road. The whole process takes about 30 to 40 minutes.
1. First I start the coach and retract the automatic hydraulic leveling jacks. Where we are now it is so level that I didn’t even use them to level the coach. I dumped the air in the tanks when we arrived by pressing a button on the dashboard. Doing so lets the whole coach settle 7 inches which lowers the entry steps. By starting the engine, I am reinflating the suspension and raising the coach to travel height.
2. Put in the left slide. This is an extendable wall. Our coach has one full length slide on the left (about 33 feet) and two smaller slides on the right. By retracting the left slide, I can work outside disconnecting all the utilities and the slide is not above me. This keeps me from having to bend over.
3. I pull a lever on a valve and empty the black water tank down the sewer drain beside the coach. I then close that drain and empty the grey water (that is all the water from the sinks, shower and clothes washer). This flushes out the hose with cleaner water. Then I stow the drain hose.
4. Next I disconnect the fresh water, put our water softener in one of the side compartments. The softener consist of a fiberglass tube that is 7 inches by 22 inches. It needs to be recharged every two to three weeks. I simply take off the top cap, dump in a container of table salt (the round cardboard container you get at a grocery store for 49 cents), wait 15 minutes, turn the water on and let it trickle out of the softener for 15 minutes. Then I test it by placing my finger in the outlet stream and when the water isn’t salty tasting anymore I connect the hose to the coach and I’m done. The water hose on the coach has an electric reel so I just press a button and it reels the hose in for me.
5. I make sure all awnings are in. We have two manual ones over windows on the left and two power awnings on the right. One is over the exit – entry door of the coach and the other is the big awning that provides shade to sit under.
6. I press a button and the satellite / Direct TV dish stows itself flat against the roof automatically. We never use the regular TV antenna so I don’t have to fold it down.
7. Now we bring in the two slides on the right side.
8. I take a sun cover off the windshield. This looks like screen door screen but is made of a vinyl material. It is black and deflects up to 95% of the heat from the sun away from the coach. This is a great help in that it keeps the coach cooler and makes the air conditioners run less. I purchased a handy one that can be installed or removed from the ground by one person with no Velcro or snaps. It really works great.
9. Disconnect the electric cable from the shore power. I have a power reel for this also.
10. I check the trailer – having already loaded the Miata inside.
11. I lock all the outside storage doors. There are about 10.
12. Kim and I make one last trip around the unit together – Tires OK? Doors Secured? Satellite Down? And so on. I would rather have Kim notice I forgot to put the satellite down than to hit it on an overpass.
13. I program the GPS and we’re ready to go.
14. It should be said that during this time Kim is busy getting things secured inside the coach and getting her travel books ready for the trip. She does a lot of reading about where things are – like diesel and rest areas and points of amusement. Fuel stops are important as we can’t get into a lot of the smaller stations and we also like to keep the top half of the tank full – something my dad taught me. It is no fun running on fumes looking for a fuel station.