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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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?
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 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.
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