The first of September found us parked at "Camp Newmar," the parking area at the service center of Newmar Corporation in Nappanee, Indiana where our Dutch Star was
manufactured.  Parking there is free with full hook-ups and there were about 25 rigs parked there taking advantage of Newmar's hospitality over the holiday weekend, which
is typically a difficult weekend to find a peaceful spot to park an RV. Many of the rigs had been serviced the week before and others were scheduled for the days following
Labor Day.  We had an appointment for Tuesday morning, the day after Labor Day.  During our first year of RVing, we had met Rich and Diane Emond after having been inspired
by their website as they also became full-time RVers.  Over the last 13 years we have kept in touch and crossed paths with them in different parts of the US and this time it
was in Nappanee.  Since they were there the week before and knew we were coming, Rich saved us a site next to them.  Over the holiday weekend we had some great visits;
domino games with Diane; Italian, Mexican and Greek dinners out; an afternoon at the movies; and Tom and Rich played a round of golf at the local municipal course.  Tom
was pleased with his game considering he'd only played one other time all summer and this was the first after his cataract surgery and he did not have new glases yet.  
Unfortunately,Rich and Diane have had a summer of repairs much the same as we have had.  We were also surprised when another Dutch Star arrived being driven by a Palm
Creek buddy Tom Conerty and his wife Carol.  We chatted with them several times and passed on hints for their next stop at Spartan Chassis in Michigan.

Bright and early Tuesday morning the service techs were at our doorstep.  We'd managed to oversleep and set a record for being up and ready for guests in about 20
minutes as they arrived at 6:10am.  Our repairs this visit to Newmar were minor and our rig was out of the service bay and parked back in our spot by 8:00..hardly enough time
to have gone out to breakfast!  Tom still had some small parts to buy in the parts department and a discussion with the service manager about a part to be ordered, so we
weren't ready to hit the road right away.  Rich and Diane had decided to take the factory tour while waiting for their continued service, so we joined them.  It had been a few
years since we'd taken the tour and we enjoyed renewing the process in our minds.  Newmar production is a bit slower than it was years back, but they have managed to keep
production going through "the lean years" and are now turning out about 6 new rigs per day.  We followed around the various stations as they took a bare chassis inside and
started working first with the flooring and then the interior before putting on the sides and roof, installing the windows and then sending the RV off to be painted.  Quite a
process over several days for each unit.    We said our last good-bys to Emonds and Conertys and headed west on Wednesday, September 4.
In Nappanee your hear transportaion noises from
"clip-clop, clip-clop"..... the roar of diesel engines.  From basic to fanciful.  
You couldn't miss this RV...
...and its matching tow car.
(We even got some free samples!)
The apple festival is coming soon to
Nappanee. There are many large
decorated apples around town.
We had a great time with Diane and Rich Emond.  Fellow
"full-timers for 13 yrs, they have now
bought a winter spot in Florida.
Tom and Tom Conerty compared notes
on how we all started in Arizona and
ended up in Indiana.
What fun to drive around on a bare chassis!
The floor is on and the men are working on the interior
details...wallboard, appliances,
doors, cabinets, furniture.
Then they put the outside walls on in one big sheet.
The workers amazed us as they cut the holes for the
windows, slide-outs, vents, etc. with
no patterns or templates.
Leaving Nappanee on September 4, we started our annual trip to the west.  With no unusual stops planned, we followed the now familiar path through Inidiana, Illinois,
Missouri, and Oklahoma and down to Texas.  Our nightly stops included the Downstream Casino west of Joplin, MO and the Grand Lake Casino east of Oklahoma City which
both have free water and electric hookups...great things as we returned to near 100* temperatures!
We rolled into Abilene, Texas, home of our three granddaughters and their parents, on Saturday, September 9.  We had decided to stay at a different place this time, and got
settled in at the "Big Country RV Park."  As do most of the RV parks in this area, they seem to cater mostly to oil and construction workers temporarily located to this area.  
Unlike some of the others, however, the sites are level and have no obstructions to parking RVs or satellite reception.   It proved to be a good choice as it is also quiet and
not busy.

It was great to see the family again!  They sure are busy, though!  Our oldest granddaughter now has a drivers' license and a car, so is very independent these days.  But, we
did get to pick up the other two from school many days and to deliver them to various after school activities.  We discovered that school isn't what it used to be on the night
we attended the "Open House" at Wylie High School.  Along with Ann and Matt we followed most of the class schedule that Coffey and Close had given us, found our way
around the school, met their teachers and were amazed with the amount technology used.  

We weren't assigned many "around the house" chores this visit so while the family was at work and school we became tourists.  We purchased a "Round-Up Pass" from the
Abilene Visitors Bureau and made our way to several area attractions included on our pass.  At "Frontier Texas" we learned about the history of Texas, and of the local "big
country" through marvelous videos and displays using holograms.   Another day we visited the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum.  Abilene hosted large training
facilities during WWII and was the home of "The Hellcats."  Local volunteers and former members of "The Hellcats" have put together several floors of great memorabilia.  
Venturing to downtown Abilene we went to the Paramount Theater.  The 1200-seat theater opened in 1930 and operated until 1979.  It has been fully restored and now is a
community showplace hosting live theater, films, opera and other performing arts.  We enjoyed looking around on a self-guided tour.  South of Abilene we drove to the small
town of Buffalo Gap.  Originally the county seat of Taylor County, Buffalo Gap suffered in population when the railroad was built to the north, through what is now Abilene.  At
the Buffalo Gap Historical Village we passed through 50 years of west Texas and frontier history from 1875-1925.  We toured the authentic old buildings with the help of "audio
wands" telling us about the people who once lived and worked in them.
September 22 was our youngest granddaughter's birthday.   She is now officially a teenager, turning 13.  Merrick had a weekend of celebration as Tom and I started it off
taking Merrick for a pizza dinner and game night at a local pizza place.  The family celebrated on Sunday with a day at the local "Primetime" facility where they played laser
tag, rode go-carts and played arcade games, followed by dinner out and then ice cream and cake at home.
It's football season...and in Texas that is "big stuff."  We were "wimps" and didn't attend the homecoming game in the rain so we missed seeing the Wylie "Pure Gold Band"
perform.  Sorry, Coffey!  We were, however, able to attend a couple of JV games to see the half-time show provided by the "Wylie Belles" drill team and a pep rally where
the drill team also made an appearance.  Our girl, Coffey, has been a dancer since kindergarten!
We walked the halls of Wylie High School looking
for "our classes."
Mary helped Close create a stuffed elephant for one
of her projects using a pattern without directions
she found on the internet.
The Paramount Theater in Abilene is just one of many
"art deco" buildings in the downtown area.
The inside of the Paramount Theater has been restored
with luxurious seating, curtains, lighting and decorations.
Tom found a WWII tank in the outdoor exhibits at the
extensive 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum.
The original Taylor County Courthouse and Jail is
just one of the many authentic buildings in the
Buffalo Gap Village.
The race is on.  Coffey had pulled way out in front
of the family pack!
Tom helped the girls try to 'beat the system" at the
"Speed of Light" game.
Merrick blew out her candles with one good breath!
Coffey was named "Belle of the Week" on September 26
The Belles were part of a super-hero skit at the Pep Rally
The Wylie High School "Belles" Drill Team put on a great performance!
The last weekend of the month was another rainy one...why does it always rain on the weekends?  Luckily, though, the clouds parted on Sunday, September 29 so that Tom and
Matt could enjoy a round of golf at the local "Diamondback Golf Club."  The weather turned out perfect, the course was not crowded, and they both had a decent round...other
than the hill of fire ants that Tom discovered.

We're planning a few more days in Abilene and then will continue our journey towards Arizona!
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