Sunday, September 22, 2013

Princess Fergie

Sunday, September 22, 2013



 Fergie as we call her is our lovely six year old apricot colored toy poodle.  Her full name is Princess Fergie Laning. 

I was close to retirement back in May of 2007 and had plans to travel out West in my car for at least a month and thought Dolly would want company.  I looked in our local paper, the Pantagraph.  We had two small poodles previously and loved them so my eyes went to the Pet section and looked for poodles.  I looked for a Party Poodle because we had previously had a black and white one and I just loved him.  Sure enough one was listed along with several others in a litter on a farm about 25 miles north of Bloomington.

Dolly was at work so I drove up with the intention of getting the Party Poodle.  Once I got a look at them, the Party Poodle did not have the look I was looking for so I looked at the others.  There were four and they were all big little boys except for one small female runt.  She may have been small, but she was a tiger.  She kept jumping up in the box wanting me to pet her.

Initially, I was reluctant to take her because I was afraid she was too small and would be sickly or get stepped on.  But she just kept jumping up and getting knocked down by her bigger brothers until I was afraid she was in more danger in the box than in my hand.

Paid the lady $550 and off I went to surprise my wife when she got off work – and she was surprised!  The rest is history.  She is a little devil and very spoiled.  Unfortunately, over the years she has become partial to me, so now she is my baby unless it is time to eat and then Dolly is her favorite buddy.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

First Day of Fall

Saturday, September 21, 2013 


What a beautiful morning!  It is cool – 53 degrees and it is going to be a great day.  Feels like fall again this morning.  Yesterday, we got some much needed rain. 

I had taken my jeep into Discount Tire on Wednesday because I had gotten a piece of metal in the driver’s rear tire on the trip back from Southern Illinois.  They took a look and told me that it was a wide cut and could not be repaired.  They also told me that the tires were the original tires.  Even though they looked new, they are in fact eight years old.  Too old to take to the Southwest this winter, so new tires are in order.  I made an appointment for Friday to put new tires on.

Took it in on Friday, and within an hour the tires were on.  They are Falken, size 30X9.50X15LT Rocky Mountain all-terrain tires. 



Took it on a ride up to 55 mph to test them out and the ride has improved tremendously!  Before, the jeep made loud street noise while going down the road and there was a definite wobble around 55 mph.  Being my first jeep, I thought this was just how it was with small vehicles with tall tires.  The ride now is just great!  I am so happy to spend $446 to fix the handling problem.

I have also gotten several other thing for the trip over the past month.  For my birthday, Dolly bought me a Kindle Fire HD.  I can use it to Google Map locations for campgrounds and State Parks as we travel and it is great for Kindle books.  I recently downloaded “Hiking Big Bend National Park”.  This will be a great tool for knowing where to hike once we get there.

I also bought a CD of “Microsoft Streets and Trips - 2013” software which is a great tool for creating my travel plans.  I can put in starting time and how long I want to travel, when to get gas and how often I want to take breaks and the software will place them on the map for me.  I can then find overnight parks near the end of the day and map to them, so I can go directly at the end of the day.  Can’t wait to try it out.


This is my tentative travel plans to Big Bend National Park in Southern Texas and then on to Phoenix, Arizona.

Only three months till we leave.  I am hoping to start out right after Christmas.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Heading Home

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Got up this morning to a beautiful and cool morning.  Today is the day we head for home.  Ate breakfast and stopped by the dump station to do our business there.  We were on the road by noon.

Made good time.  Stopped at the Rend Lake rest area for a break one hour into the trip and got gas later at Effingham.  Made it home around 3:30 p.m. 

The cats didn't seem to excited to see us at first, but soon they were meowing and hanging around us just like we were never gone.

I brought in the TV from our MH and plugged it in and connected it to the coax cable in the kitchen and turned it on.  I was surprised to find that the local channels were not there.  I figured that the guide was still set up for Paducah, KY and was messing things up.

To make a long story short, I called DISH to have them reset the zip code for local channels.  I was really surprised how quickly they answered and got me setup.  While on the phone I asked the lady why my receivers in the house had the wrong channels.  She told me that my entire account is switched, not just my Tailgater.  That may be a bummer if I go on a trip alone and Dolly and Fergie stay home.  I won’t have local channels.  Will have to discuss alternatives with DISH if this ever happens.

This ends our Southern Illinois trip.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Stephen A Forbes State Park

      Thursday, September 12, 2013

      This morning we headed toward home, but decided to only go part way and stay at the Stephen A Forbes State Park Northeast of Salem, Illinois.  It is a beautiful park on a fairly large lake.  We got into the park around 2 pm and set up in a pull through with a great view of the South so we can watch the Thursday Night football.


      A cold front came through this evening and it has cooled down for the first time on our trip.  Took a bike ride around the park and two deer bounced across the road in front of me. 

      Dolly, Fergie and I took a nice walk down to the lake this evening.  We saw several groups of large turkeys walking quickly through the woods nearby.  Would have made a nice dinner, but they were too quick for the Fergie to catch.


      Spent the remainder of the evening watching “some football”. 


      Friday, September 13, 2013

      This morning is so beautiful and cool, we decided to stay another day.  At 6:30 this morning I went down to the lake to fish while Dolly and Fergie slept in.  Stayed for over an hour and not one bite.  Lost a nice lure in a tree and caught one stick and that was it for fishing.


      Took several bike rides but other than that we sat around and did nothing all day.

      At 5:00, Dolly, Fergie and I walked to the Lakeside Restaurant and Marina for some dinner.  We sat outside on tables near the water and had our fish and burgers.  It was a lovely, cool evening without a cloud in the sky.


      Watched a little TV and hit the sack.

    Millstone Bluff

    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    I cannot believe it has been 12 years since the disaster in NYC.  I hope time has helped those affected. 


    This morning it was another hot and muggy one.  Dolly and Fergie decided to stay in the AC while I ventured several miles up the road to the Millstone Bluff Archaeological Area.  1500 years ago a clan of Indians lived on a bluff in this area.  


    It is about a half mile walk through the area.  It took a lot of imagination to see what the signs were trying to point out.  I could see a shallow grave at the cemetery. 

    There were depressions in the ground where the homes were located and a large clearing where the council lodge was located and a large depression where the council lodge was located.


    After leaving, I headed toward the Marina, but took a side road to see the origin of the “Trail of Tears”.  Kept going thinking I would come out near the Ohio River but no such luck.  After wandering around on the back roads for an hour I finally had to stop and ask a guy mowing his lawn how to get to Golconda.  I was over 20 miles away and still not close to finding it.  With his directions I was able to get to the Marina.


    Spent several hours with Doug, Carrie and her mom, Jean.  Had a nice visit.  We are heading out in the morning so wanted to spend time with them.



    Tuesday, September 10, 2013 

    We decide this morning that this would be the day to visit my Dad and Faye in Nashville.  We first stopped at the Marina to visit Doug and Carrie for a bit and then headed out.  

    I cannot believe I took the wrong road out of Gondola, but I did.  There are only two roads out and I took the road going South along the Ohio River.  As it turned out it was a pretty drive and went over the Ohio on a two lane green steel bridge to enter Paducah, Kentucky instead of the normal I24 bridge I always take.  Stopped to move a box turtle from the middle of the road and send it own it’s way.  That was the only excitement till we were about 20 miles out of Nashville.   

    The skies turned black and it poured.  We had thunder, lightening and small hail.  We had to stop under a bridge at one point because it was hard to see.  Of course I left the windows for the jeep back at the motorhome so we got a little water in the very back of the jeep but not bad. 

    We got to Dad’s place at 4 o’clock, several hours later than I had planned.  It took 5 hours to get there.  We had a nice visit with Dad for about an hour and a half and then Faye came home from work and we went to their country club for dinner.  Had a nice chat with both of them (forgot to take a picture). 

    It was 8 o’clock before we got on the road for home.  It was midnight when we pulled into the drive at the cabin we are staying.  Long day and long drives, but glad I was able to see my Dad.  He is doing very well and is recovering from his hip replacement nicely.  He only uses a cane to help him get around.  Much better than the walker he had to use before surgery and for several months after.  He says soon he will be taking Faye dancing again.  Pretty good ambition for a 94 year old!

    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Garden of the Gods


    September 9, 2013

    20130909_065802 20130910_083200

    We got up early this morning to watch the sun rise over the Ohio River our boondocking site next to the river.  We then ate breakfast and headed over to one of Doug and Carries’ rental cabins located about 14 miles from their Marina.  Doug suggested that we stay at the cabin.  It has a 20 amp outlet, water and a sewer connection.  There are three very nice cabins they rent out.  Unfortunately, AT&T again has no bars here so I am unable to make a phone call.  However, Doug added WIFI to the cabins so I am able to access the Internet.

    After getting settled in, we headed out in the jeep for the Garden of the Gods.  This is an area in the Shawnee National Forest that has beautiful rock formations.  They are compressed into a quarter mile trail that has a nice rock walkway.  Of course there are a lot of places you need to rock climb to get the best pictures. 

    2013-09-09 13.20.52-2 20130909_131337
    20130909_130954 20130909_114632

    It was so hot and humid we were dead after that.  We took a dirt road through the forest for about 15 miles on our way home to give the jeep a little work-out.  Here is a pic of a Southern Illinois interstate.

    2013-09-09 13.55.24

    The rest of the day was spent resting and watching “some football.”

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    Day at the Marina

    September 8, 2013

    Started our day slowly today.  After breakfast, I took a bike ride around the campground while Dolly worked around the motorhome.  Around 11 o’clock we headed to the Marina for the rest of today and will boondock tonight in the parking lot.

    I thought it would be a quick Dish set-up for Dolly’s football games but it was far from it.  Called Dish to help me after the second try at connecting.  They said they would call me back in 16 minutes and after an hour I called them on Dolly’s phone and got a technician this time.  It turned out to be my fault.  Back four months ago when I bought the Dish Tailgater, they told me to call and give them my zip code location when traveling and wanting local channels.  The technician changed my location and we were up and going about 2 hours late.

    Luckily, Dolly got the Bears game with 9 minutes to go and they were losing by 6 points.  With her help the Bears pulled out a win by 1 point. 

    I finally got to go fishing!


    Me fishing on the Ohio with a barge going down river.  Didn’t even get a bite.  Did catch a tree limb on my first cast!


    At 3:30 the Bass Fishing contest sponsored by Bass Boats was finished and they did their weigh-in at the Marina.  A local man won the heaviest fish and highest total weight for their best 5 fish.  I believe he had a 4.74 lb fish and a total of 17.4 pounds of fish.


    After that Doug asked if I was interested in taking a pontoon boat ride up the Ohio and of course I said “Yes”.  We had a great time and I got to drive.

    20130908_172053 20130908_172151

    It was time to call it a night.  It was so hot and humid I had the AC running most of the night.  This is a pic of our site from the water as we were returning to the Marina.


    Cave-in-Rock State Park

    September 7th, 2013

    After breakfast around 11 o’clock this morning all of us headed to the Cave-in-Rock State Park.  Took us over an hour to make the 40 minute trip.  I thought we had passed it, so turned back for about six miles before asking someone and they said to continue the way we were first going about three more miles and we would be there.  We dead-ended right into Hwy 1.


    The town of Cave-in-Rock is about 350 in population and Hwy 1 runs right through it and stops at the river on the edge of town where the ferry is located.  We did not take the ferry, but it goes across the river to Kentucky.  It is a quaint and old river town. We went a few short miles north to the park. 


    The cave itself is located in the side of the river bluffs and quite cool after being the very hot and humid in the jeep.  Even with AC it is hot with the top down.  Not much to the cave and unfortunately there was graffiti everywhere. 


    We then drove through the campground itself to take a look around.  It is small with electricity only so we are glad we didn’t drive the extra 40 minutes last night.  Where we are staying is better.


    On the way back to the campground we stopped at the Marina and talked with Doug and Carrie for several hours while they were trying to take care of customers.  Was really great to see the two of them.  I think working in the outside air is good for them and they seem to really enjoy it.


    We talked to Doug about staying tomorrow in the parking lot of the Marina way in the back and they had no problem with it.  Dolly will be able to watch her games and I will do some fishing.

    Southern Illinois

    September 6, 2013


    This is our first trip in the motorhome with the jeep hooked up.  We learned a few thing about preparation.  We need to start packing a week before our trips instead of the day before.  We were worn out after the first day of packing and getting the jeep and bicycle hooked up. 


    The next morning we did the final packing and it wasn’t till 11 o’clock that we finally got on the road and that was not without a learning curve also.  The motorhome pulls the jeep very easily.  However, when reading the directions to hooking up the jeep, it said to put the transmission into neutral and then place the gearbox into neutral and then put the transmission into park for traveling. 


    It also said to turn the key one position.  However when I did that the key would not come out so I moved it to the second position so that I could remove the key.  When we started on the trip I noticed turning out of the drive that the jeep made a squeaking noise and the motorhome felt like it was pulling to the right hard when going down the road.  I went along for about 25 miles to the first rest stop on I74 heading toward Champaign. 


    I started thinking that maybe the steering wheel was in a locked position as they normally do when placed in park and the key is removed.  I went back to check and sure enough it was locked into position.  The first key position unlocked the steering wheel.  I called Evan to discuss the situation and he said that I should leave the key in and drive it like that.


    Started down the road again and the pulling to the right disappeared and all was right with the world!  The jeep pulled like it wasn’t there and a lesson learned.


    The trip was uneventful all the way to Golconda, our day’s destination.  We ate lunch at the McDonalds in LeRoy.  Next stop was the rest area at Rend Lake and then gas at Marion.  Got 30 gallons for $4.59 a gallon and the mileage was 236 for a whopping 7.7 miles to the gallon.


    We stopped at the Golconda Marina that Doug and Carrie manage and Carrie and her mother were at the register checking a group in from their pontoon boat rental.  The Marina is a small man made cove on the Ohio River separating Illinois from Indiana and Kentucky.  We visited Carrie for about half an hour and she suggested we stay at the Glendale Lake Recreational State Park on Rte 145 .  I had never heard of the park.  It is very near Dixon State Park which is just down the road at the Rte 145/146 intersection.



    We had planned to go further up the Ohio River to Cave-in-Rock State Park but it was getting late so plans were changed.  Glad we didn’t have reservations.  Glendale Lake State Park is $20 a night and quite large, winding around the southern and eastern end of Glendale Lake.  Quite wooded and no AT&T cell service at all – zip! Knowing that Dolly would like to watch football on Sunday, I paid for tonight and Saturday night.  We will check around the area on Saturday for cell service and a good southerly view so we can hook up the Dish for football.  The Marina parking lot will be perfect so will check with Doug tomorrow to see if that will be okay.



    We are tired, so it is dinner and to bed for us tonight.  Tomorrow we will see some sights and visit with Doug and Carrie at the Marina for a bit.