May 2009                                return to our home page
                                                                                                                                     return to "What we've been doing....."
 

Talk about quiet!  Palm Creek in May was almost desolate.  The streets were empty, the RV sites were bare and there were few souls about.  The closest we got to a "crowd" was at sunrise when several dozen people took advantage of free golf and shared the course or played pickleball.  Mary's tennis group was down to a rotating six members.  But, then came Cinco de Mayo.  Over one hundred people gathered in the ballroom to feast on a Mexican potluck dinner topped off with fried ice cream.  What a fantastic selection of food! We're not sure where all the people came from!  We shared the evening with Jeff and Elaine Spencer who challenged us to a came of pool afterwards.

Once our tennis and golf were finished in the mornings, we concentrated on the little chores of getting ready to get back on the road.  The afternoon temperatures were around 105* so we took several weeks to check things off our "to do" list.  Fluids were checked, tires were aired-up, the coach was washed, clutter was packed away, closets and cupboards cleaned out, screens were scrubbed, the shed was re-organized and the list goes on.  Before we knew it, we were ready to go.
 
 
 

Ole' Ole'  We had our choice of many Mexican dishes at the Cinco de Mayo party in the company of friends, Elaine and Jeff Spencer.
Elaine and Jeff visit the Palm Creek pool hall regularly, so they had no trouble beating us at the game.  But, we had fun!
Among other items, Tom tackled cleaning the wheel covers as we worked on our "pre-departure" chore list.  In 105* heat, things dried fast!

 

On our last weekend at Palm Creek we enjoyed a 'farewell dinner' at the home of Char and Terry Eicher.  Boy, is Terry a good cook!   His experiment of doing a prime rib on the grill turned out fantastic.  For the evening's entertainment, they challenged us to some downhill skiing and bowling on their new Wii game.  We had great fun!  Mother's Day found us, first of all playing 18 holes of golf.  Later we were off to a BYOB Party......that's 'bring your own banana!'  The park staff provided all the ice cream and topping for banana splits.  That was tasty!
 
 
 

Not everyone at Palm Creek lives in an RV.  Our friends, the Eicher's have a lovely two bedroom/two bath 
"Village Home."
Former Toledoans, Char and Terry are year-round residents at Palm Creek now, but we when they had a Dutch Star we visited them at their property in Michgian.
Terry and Char beat us at bowling, but Tom did pretty well at downhill skiing with the Wii.  We don't think at TV that size would fit in our RV.

 

Our departure from Palm Creek was around 1pm on Monday, May 11...exactly eight months from the day we had arrived.  That's the longest we have stayed any place in the almost nine years we have been "full-timers."  It felt pretty strange, but comfortable as we headed east on I-10.  Our first overnight stop was Lordsburg, NM.  We've stayed at the Welcome Center before and can always count on it being a good stop....which it was till the next morning when our satellite receiver decided it had served us to its limit.  Lots of telephone time with Direct TV and shopping most available merchants since then find us still without satellite television service. Our second stop was in Las Cruces at the home of Mary's cousin.  What a gorgeous spot they have!  We enjoyed Geoff's homemade Sangria and enchiladas on their patio while watching the sunset shine on the mountains.
 
 
 

We're the kind of house guests that bring their own house. Mary's cousin Geoff and wife Beth have a driveway big enough for our rig and a gorgeous patio facing the mountains.
After dark, Geoff brought out his "Star Scout" and we identified some of the thousands of stars sparkling above us.

 

Wednesday, May 13 we headed to El Paso for an annual oil change/lube on the RV.  They also fixed an oil leak.  Shortly afterwards we were back on I-10 and headed on into Texas.  That night we stayed at the Parkview RV Park in Ft. Stockton...not the greatest park, but the Passport America discount made it less painful.   On Thursday it was on to Bracketville and Fort Clark Springs.   What a place!  Fort Clark was built in the mid-1800s to protect the road between San Antonio and El Paso.  It served as a military post until the 1940s, being one of the last horse calvary posts in existence.  Since then it has been owned by several parties hoping to turn it into a resort, but now is owned by a community association which has developed a small community while working to refurbish the historic buildings on the grounds.  A section at a time of the 2700 acres has been opened to residential development of various types.  There are mobile and modular homes as well as the more typical "stick-built" homes.  Apartments, condos, duplex homes and single homes and a hotel are in some of the refurbished historical buildings.  Of more interest to us were the sections where RVers have bought lots for extended stays and have built huge "roof-overs" to cover their rig and provide a nice patio area.  Some of the RVers have also built small homes under the roof to extend their living space.  Also on the fort property are several golf courses, and amphiteater built into the quarry where they removed stone to build the buildings, and the third largest swimming pool in Texas, fed by the Las Moras Creek.  The water is crystal clear and is always 68*.  The pool is drained and refilled each Wednesday night.  We enjoyed dinner in the pro-shop cafe and a nice visit with Kit and Jerry Bertelsen, a couple we'd communicated with through web-blogs, and John and Libby Veach, a couple we'd met several years ago at a rally. Jerry and John had known each other years ago when both lived in Indiana and became reacquainted when their paths crossed as RVers.  The "RVers family tree" reaches far and wide!
 
 
 

The horse with the empty saddle is in honor of the lost calvary soldiers of Fort Clark.
The spring-fed swimming pool is in a beautiful spot.
There were dozens of deer and wild turkey visiting throughout the fort.
We had an enjoyable meal and great conversation with Jerry and Kit Bertelsen and John and Libby Veach at Fort Clark Springs in Bracketville, TX.
Kit and Jerry's lot has a "roof over" for their RV with a wonderful concrete patio space and also room for a visiting RV.  Many fort residents also have a golf car.

 

The town of Bracketville is across the highway from the fort.  It was built as a supply center for the military operations and other travelers, but now is rather small.  Many of the buildings there are built with the same limestone as the buildings on the fort.  Seven miles out from town is "Alamo Village."  We drove out to see the 'village' built in the late'50s by John Wayne.  It took two years and millions of dollars to build and was the set of the epic movie "The Alamo."  Over a hundred other films, TV shows, commercials, and music videos have been made there since.  Many of the buildings in the village now contain collections of props used in the films, photographs and posters from the movies, and of course a gift shop and saloon.  The employees are dressed in period costumes and made us feel right at home in the old west.

From Bracketville, it took us a little over three days of serious driving to get to Branson, Missouri.   We usually don't do that to ourselves, but we were planning to spend several days visiting with previous neighbors at Palm Creek, June and Art Nelson, before they headed out in another direction.  On the way, we took advantage of Walmart hospitality in Waco, TX and Chocotah, OK, and the Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw, OK (near Joplin, MO).  Our timing was quite good passing through San Antonio.  While we were stopped at Flying J to fuel up, a terrific thunderstorm passed through.  The skies went from sunny to black, the winds picked up and the temperature dropped twenty degrees just while we were at the pumps.  We pulled into the RV parking area and sat for about two hours while it poured rain...something we hadn't seen in almost a year!!   At the Downstream Casino we discovered that we were in a "three corners" spot.  It seems that the casino itself is in Oklahoma, the parking lot is in Kansas, and the hotel is in Missouri.  The casino was built by the Quapaw Indians, and is a large and beautiful place.  They even have free parking with water and electric hook-ups for RVs.  How could we pass that up?
 
 
 

This is where John Wayne - and many other actors -  fought the battle of the Alamo in the 1959 version.  The builders of the Alamo and the village tried to represent San Antonio in the early 1800's.
We kept waiting for the thunderous herd of horses to come riding in to town...but we did meet the Marshall, who hails from Shamokin, PA - about 5 miles from where our daughter lives.
The Downriver Casino is operated by the Quapau Indian Tribe...with the casino being in Oklahoma, while across the parking lot, we were in Kansas.  They were kind enough to pay for our trip to Branson.

 

Next stop was Branson.   We had visited here a couple times in the past, but its always fun to take in a few shows and have some good meals with friends.  We hadn't seen Art and June Nelson since last November so we did a lot of catching up.  In the process, we took in the show "Pierce Arrow" and were very impressed with a meal at the 1400 student College of the Ozarks...not only with the food, but with the fact that the college students pay no tuition.  The nickname of the school is "Hard Work U" and students work at the school in various capacities while they get their education.  We enjoyed chatting with our waitress, a physical education major and volleyball player.   The campus is lovely - 1000 acres overlooking Lake Tanneycomo - with many facilities operated and maintained by the students themselves.  The school was originally founded in 1906 as a mission project for needy children.  Today it is a liberal arts college offering 44 different degree programs.            We were unable to get a space at the same RV park as our friends, so we stayed at the "Branson View Campground" and true to its name, it offered us a great view.       Then it was on to St. Louis where we spent a couple nights at the Harrah's Casino.  No hook-ups here, but once again, the price was right!
 
 
 

From the Branson View campground we really did have a view of Branson.
It was great to be able to spend time with our friends June and Art Nelson while we were in Branson.

 

From St. Louis we headed to Springfield, Illinois.  We had passed through Springfield several times over the past few years, but never had taken the time to stop and visit.  (Being just several hours from our grandkids who lived in northern Illinois at the time probably kept our foot on the accelerator!)  So, on this trip we stopped to visit with Abraham Lincoln.  We parked the rig at a Walmart south of town and drove the car to the attractions.   The only house President Lincoln ever owned has been maintained all these years and is in a lovely neighborhood near downtown Springfield.  The Lincolns lived in the house for seventeen years and added on to the house as they became more prosperous and their family grew.  In downtown Springfield we visited the Lincoln Presidential Museum.  We could have allowed more time for a visit as this museum is wonderful.  Galleries, each focusing on a different period in Lincoln's life, are entered from a central plaza...a log cabin for his early years, a replica of the White House for the Presidential years, and Mrs. Lincoln's Attic as a hands-on children's area.   The theater presentations are magnificient, and the displays intriguing.  Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day Weekend was a good time to visit, too, as there were few people there.  Lincoln and his family are burried in a tomb on the north edge of town.  We didn't visit the cemetery however, as torrential rains persisited for the next twenty-four hours.  We moved on to the north.
 
 
 

When the Lincons bought this house for $1500 in 1844, it was a one story home.  They added on to it over the years, but it still had no indoor plumbing or central heat.
Mary joined the Lincoln family for a portrait on the front porch of the White House.

 

Heavy rains slowed our travel over several more days as we left Springfield.  Boy, we sure aren't used to this kind of weather.  Surveying our options, we headed to the Flying J in Gary, Indiana only to use their dump station.  The major constuction zone on I-80 had moved a lot further east than it had been last summer...we're glad that our daughter has moved and we shouldn't have to deal with I-80 and Chicago any more this summer!  Heading into Michgan on I-94 we stopped in New Buffalo to visit our friends of the Pokagan Band of the Potawatami Indians.  We had discovered the newly opened Four Winds Casino last summer and once again took advantage of their RV friendly parking lot.  We thank them also for a couple of good meals and funds for diesel fuel!

Mary's mother was glad to see us when we arrived in Jackson, MI.  Over the next several days we were somewhat of a spectacle parked in front of her house, but enjoyed the opportunity to visit with Mom.  Tom took some time to do a little maintenance on the RV and we again tried to deal with Direct TV to get our satellite TV situation worked out.  Every phone call has ended with Direct promising to remedy our situation immediately with a package shipped to us as soon as possible.  The several shipments have been sent to the wrong places and have contained the wrong equipment.  We're beginning to think one of our friends was right...easly solution would be to just buy an all new RV!

We made one last stop in the month of May...on the 31st we moved form Jackson, Mi, down to Dundee, MI and anchored for a few days at Cabela's.  From here we could drive the car into Toledo to take care of a few errands and visit some friends and family.
 
 
 

After a tasty dinner at Mary's mother's home, we played a few games of cards with relatives on Mary's side of the family...Mom, Tom Crooks, Carol Loll, Gail Anderson, Jill Crooks, Bill Loll and Tom.
The "dancing bears" greeted us at Cabela's in Dundee, MI