Always on the Move

Ever since we sold our house in July, we have been on the move! Of course, that IS what the RVing lifestyle is all about. I last left us off, in the blog posts, in Arkansas. After enjoying that area so thoroughly, we were off to see family in Illinois.  But we took a meandering path that still included some interesting stops.

Ever since seeing the Cars movie years ago, I have wanted to drive on Rte 66. We found portions of it in Missouri, so we just had to drive on it.

All along Rte 66, there are things to look for from by-gone days. Wagon Wheel Motel is one of the few motels from the early parts of the famous road that is still in operation.

The Wagon Wheel motel had a car that is the right year for the heyday of Rte 66. Matt had fun pretending he was changing the oil.

There are more recent things to find along the route too, like this huge rocking chair. It was the world’s largest, but has since been upstaged.

As we drove around Rte 66 in Missouri, I read about it. I began to understand that this was a road built to connect towns along the train route just as cars became popular. It is one of our nation’s first highways. People loved taking this road from Chicago to LA and often used it for vacations. It was referred to as the Mother Road and services, such as motels and restaurants sprang up all along the way. It was fun looking for the few old signs and places left.

 

While there, we also visited a cavern that was a hide out of Jesse James and his brother. My only thoughts of them were from movie clips I might of seen here or there and I had a rather lightweight view of them. After reading about them on Wikipedia, I realize they were pretty awful.

But Meramec Caverns, where they brothers hid, were beautiful. I am really not one much for caves because I love the light! But this one was pretty with an underground river in it.

 

At the end of the tour, they showed a video on part of the formations.

Finally, we made it to Illinois for Thanksgiving. What a joy it was to spend it with family.

 

And to see the “Rat Hat Gang”. This gang ended up being much cuter and nicer than the ones that hid in the caverns. Our sweet grandkids had fun playing with the pop guns and hats that we had gotten for them in Daniel Boone National Forest. One of them called the hats, rat tail hats, and the gang name stuck.

While there, we visited Casey, IL. Remember we had seen a really big rocking chair along Rte 66? Well, the town of Casey can now boast of having the worlds largest rocking chair and well as many other hugh items. We just had to get into the love bird cage.

Our time in Illinois came to a close and when we went to hook up, we saw this on the bumper. One of our sons is notorious for doing this. Now I can never wash the truck….

 

Now we were headed towards Florida for our stopping place for the winter. But first we figured we could fit in some exploring on the way. Another thing that has captured my imagination is the Mississippi River. Tom Sawyer’s Campground had spots right along the river. We loved watching barges as they floated by. Can you see that big one out the window?

 

We were close to Memphis, but the only thing we did there was to go to the Bass Pro pyramid. What a huge place! After shopping, we decided to go up the largest free standing elevator and see the view from near the top. It was a lovely view, although a bit freaky since we had to walk over a see through floor to get to the railing. Heart pounding!

Our next stop was Natchez, MS. This area is known for so much history! Here is Matt after finding a geocache near some ruins.

 

Here are the Windsor Ruins. It once was a beautiful home that burned down. We had an interesting time getting to this place. We had to take back roads to it and were almost there when we encountered construction that had the road completely blocked. Matt parked the truck and got out to see if there was any way he could drive around it. While he was doing that, I sat in the truck, engine running. Suddenly, the driver’s door opened and a man peered in and said, “What are you up to, Girlie?” I sure was not expecting that! The first thing I did was point to Matt, who was now returning quickly, and told him that we were trying to find a way to the ruins. He gave us some detailed instructions, none of which included road names, and we were off on our way. We were glad for our truck! Here is a video I took on the road he told us to take: Lost In Mississippi

I found the soil so interesting. It looked to me like all that was holding soil in place were tree roots. So different than the PA soil I grew up with.

We drove on another interesting road, Natchez Trace. What a beautiful road! It is a 444 mile scenic drive that is part of the National Park Service. This had first been an Indian trail and then used by early settlers. This photo shows a part of the old trace called “Sunken Trace.” As people traversed along the path, it became deeper and deeper because of the type of soil.

Natchez is known for having several antebellum homes. We only had time to tour one, Longwood. It is octagonal.

But Longwood’s main attraction is that it is unfinished. It was being built at an unfortunate time and the Civil War stopped its progress. The family lived in the basement for years until it became a museum.

There are still paint cans and other tools that were abandoned as the workers left for the war. The tour was extremely interesting and well done by the curator.

I wanted to see New Orleans, but Matt wasn’t into it. So, we went south of the city and stayed at Grand Isle State Park on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico.

We felt like we had the place to ourselves, except for the many birds! The campground was lovely and it was just a short walk over some dunes to the beach.

Our last night there had a magnificent sunset.

But that sunset heralded some bad weather. After a night of strong wind, we woke to rain. We decided to head away and towards warmth in Florida. But we didn’t make it very far before the rain turned to snow. This was not in the plan! We knew we had many bridges to cross and were in an area that hardly ever got snow. In fact, they hadn’t had snow in 8 years. We pulled off into a gas station and I called to see if any RV resort nearby could let us stay a night. We found one 5 miles away on a bayou. We sure didn’t expect snow on a bayou, but were thankful for a place to stay and warmer weather the next day.

 

And we made it to Florida! Not our wintering spot yet, but a really cool place, Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring. I had seen this place in some YouTube videos and really wanted to visit it. But when we got here I started to freak out. First of all, it was only 60 degrees outside. Not hardly swimming weather. And then the place to swim was a dark cave in 72 degree water. As I said before, caves are not my favorite thing. But I got brave and did it! And it was a beautiful place.

So, next we will be heading to our wintering spot, Sarasota. Until next time, Happy Adventures!

We met this Minion in Casey, IL. He was hiding a geocache that was called, “Say hi to Dave”. He was very friendly!

Might As Well Go To Mt Rushmore

Life sure can be unpredictable. Especially when living with my hubby. On his birthday a few days ago, I gave him a birthday card that said he is my biggest adventure, and it’s true. We were only supposed to be going to Illinois to see family for a couple weeks, but suddenly he said, “Well, since we are going that far, we might as well go to see Mt Rushmore.” That man knows how to make me happy. I packed with a huge smile for this trip. Not only would I see precious family, but I’d be going on an adventure too.

First we spent almost a month with our son and his family, which includes our three adorable grandchildren who have absolutely stolen my heart. We were able to see Jonathan fulfilling his role as campus pastor at New Hope Newton church.

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We experienced lots of rain and even a couple tornado warnings while in Illinois. I smiled as I did my Bible reading this morning. It was Mark 4:37-41 where Jesus slept in the boat during a terrible storm. His disciples were terrified and woke him with the question, “Don’t you care?” I admit that storms do scare me a bit. It might have something to do with watching the house next door burn after being struck by lightening when I was 4 years old. But as I get to know Jesus a bit better, I am learning just how powerful and loving he is. He said, “Quiet! Be still!” and the waves and wind totally died down. During the storms of life, I am learning to trust that God will still the storm. So as we waited in the basement of our son’s house during tornado warnings, I attempted to share the faithfulness of our almighty God with my granddaughter. With all that rain, we had plenty of time to do art.

Oh, how those children love art! Even one year old Aaron will not be left out. If he sees me sitting down with his sisters to do “arting”, he fusses until he is on my lap and holding a pencil. He’s happy that way for an hour!IMG950460

My daughter-in-law, Johanna, and I learned a new artform: mosaics. Here we are with our instructor, Dinah Nuelle.DSC_7894 3

And I had the privilege of teaching my first two students how to do rug hooking. Johanna and her friend, Morgan, enjoyed designing their own projects and I got them started.  Aaron wanted to get in on the rug hooking too. I started calling him Leonardo because he seemed interested in so many things.

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It was difficult to leave those wonderful people, but it was time to explore. After stopping in Nebraska to visit Matt’s sister, we made our way to the Badlands in South Dakota. I found the lovely green plains and the big sky fascinating. I could see forever! It was the first time I had seen a speed limit sign for 80 mph! Don’t worry, I didn’t go that fast with the rig.Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Beautiful bright blue butterflies flitted around and I snapped this pic of two mating.Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I had made reservations right in the park for our camping. It’s almost boondocking, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. There is electricity at the site, but no water or sewer. So, we filled our holding tank with water ahead of time. I like that we are one step closer to being able to camp with no hook ups! The Cedar Pass campground is right next to beautiful Badlands formations.Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Our neighbors were lovely people that actually knew of the college where Matt and I attended and met, Houghton College. Not many people know of it. We enjoyed visiting with Max and Betty for a bit and then went driving in the Badlands.Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

What lovely formations!

Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

The mounds had stripes and the ground looked quite parched.

Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.comBadlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

What a great day. The sunset was amazing and bathed our camper in warm light. We hadn’t made it to Mt Rushmore yet but that’s next! Stay tuned.

Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Kids, Caves and Camper Catastrophe

Lots has happened in the last month or so. I had fun coming up with a title. It could have also been Children, Chattanooga and Challenge. Or Baby, Bliss and Blowout. It all started when we went to our son and daughter-in-law’s house in Illinois to be there for the birth of our grandson, Aaron Matthew. What a beautiful baby! I suppose I should say handsome since he’s a boy. Isn’t that a sweet little face over PopPop’s shoulder?Aaron Matthew

We were still with them for Matt’s birthday so we all ventured out to see some history. Illinois is famous for President Lincoln and we visited what was nearby, his parents’ home.Lincoln's parents' home

It almost felt like we were back in our homeschooling days. So fun to watch Beth and Emily learn about wool and spinning.wool carding

Our time with family always goes too quickly. Soon we were off on more adventures. Our first stop was to see the longest cave in the world, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.Mammoth Cave

We went on a two hour tour of the cave and learned about the various explorers that mapped out over 400 miles. It was a bit startling to realize that so much of the above ground places in the area had these massive holes under them! Such an interesting and impressive place. My photos didn’t turn out so well, but I did better at our next cave. It was fun seeing this “Stay in a Teepee” motel along our travels.Teepee motel

In our quest to visit and get a geocache in every state, we determined to stop in Tennessee. At first the plan was to go to Nashville. But we seemed to struggle with that plan. I keep telling myself that we need to learn how to enjoy cities, but that’s not us! We headed towards Chattanooga instead. It’s a beautiful place right along the Tennessee River.Chattanooga

We enjoyed another cave, that was actually part of our campground, Raccoon Mountain. I wasn’t thrilled about spending more time in a dark cave, but Matt really wanted to so underground we went.Raccoon Mountain Cavern

Even though Mammoth cave was, well, so BIG, Raccoon Mountain Cavern had more interesting formations. And cave crickets that had never seen light.Cave Cricket

We rushed around over the weekend to see all of Chattanooga that we could possibly fit in since we would be leaving on Monday to continue our trek towards Florida. Matt was due there in a week to do some work. We visited Rock City where supposedly on a clear day you can see seven states. I’ve heard that it’s not true, but it was still a wonderful view.See Seven States

We were glad not to be crushed by Balanced Rock.Balanced Rock

I often refer to TripAdvisor to figure out what to see when we go places. One of the top activities listed for Chattanooga was to walk over a bridge. So, of course we had to experience Walnut Street Bridge for ourselves.Walnut Street bridge

As far as cities go, I was beginning to appreciate this one. There were sculptures and other artistic expressions all over the place.1-DSC_2406 5-DSC_2222 2

And then we visited the Hunter Art Museum. I had just completed my first self portrait and had struggled with trying to paint a face. So, we had fun looking at all the art and analyzing all the faces. We noticed that some of the paintings looked like quite a bit of work was done in the face area. Some of them even looked like the artist had had to cover up parts and redo them. The end result was great, but it became apparent that painting a human face is a challenge for even the best artist. I had fun looking at this face, Il Mostro, by Tony Scherman.Il Mostro by Tony Scherman

It was so large!Il Mostro

I have so many more photos from Chattanooga that I’d love to share, but I don’t want the post to get too long. I had really enjoyed the area but it was time to head to Florida. We packed it all up and started on our way, with me driving as usual. Twenty miles out of Chattanooga, we heard a strange sound and I felt like suddenly we were on ice. I pulled over and we found that a tread had blown off one of the tires. Matt went about the difficult task of changing a tire on a camper next to a highway. He’s awesome!Matt changing the tire.

Then he realized there was more than just a tire problem. He suggested that I take a look inside the camper under the kitchen sink. Yeah, definitely a problem.camper damage

It looked a bit better cleaned up some…maybe. The tread had exploded into the camper creating more damage than first realized. camper damage

We had to head back to Chattanooga to an RV place for repairs. We were so thankful that we were not hurt! And also for Allstate Insurance and Camping World. Even though the damage was extensive, we were back on the road in 5 days! Our camper, “The Palace”, looks good as new.  And, while Matt worked those days in a hotel room, I had more time to explore Chattanooga. You never know what a day will hold. Life is always an adventure and a puzzle.Matt and Janine