Our Travels

Our retirement began February 3rd, 2006. This is an account of our travels. We hope you enjoy them. You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge the picture. Please leave a comment for us...we love to read them.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Installment #12 - Retirement Trip


Our trip to Fort Scott was exciting…just as we started across the railroad tracks, the red lights came one, railroad arms started down and a train on our left….pretty hard to get 30 feet of motorhome and our car across railroad tracks in a hurry! J Walked around Ft. Scott. Saw Veteran’s Memorial with Eisenhower’s name on it and many others. Talked to two men painting posts at the memorial. They were more than happy to give us information about Ft. Scott…Mr. Reed told me the story about the National cemetery we had gone to the night before – how the confederates stones were off-set, not in line, last slap in the face to the confederate soldiers. Saw an e-bay consignment store, music was playing as we walked down the main street of old town Ft. Scott.
Tony got his music fix at Wanda’s home – playing the piano as she played the organ.

Day 52 began with a trip to Union Station (http://www.unionstation.org/). Kansas City has done a great job restoring this building. Saw the "meet me under the clock" clock that has been in Union Station since 1914 – 6.5’ tall, 3’ thick and weighs 1000 pounds. Saw the Liberty Memorial (America’s only national momument for WWI veterans). Next to Crown Center shopping plaza which housed the Hallmark Visitor’s Center….interesting place – displaying artists’ work (Norman Rockwell, Grandma Moses and Sir Winston Churchill); presidential Christmas cards ordered from Hallmark since Eisenhower in 1953; live demonstrations by craftspeople; and Hallmark’s automatic ribbon bow maker (http://hallmarkvisitorscenter.com/)(picture of Wanda and Tony in front of the embossed mural at Hallmark’s entrance hall).

Day 53, still in Kansas City, we went to the Harley Davidson (picture) manufacturing plant (http://www.harley-davidson.com/wcm/Content/Pages/Factory_Tours/kansas_city.jsp?locale=en_US). A very informative tour about Harleys (no cameras allowed in the plant) seeing all the robots thus proving what a soft life the engineers of today seem to have. Two robots were working with each other, one handing the second robot a piece of tube to bend before laying it on a bench. Another robot held a fuel tank while his brother Mig welded it. Another robot sanded the surface of a finished tank, looked at it, didn’t like the job, and sanded it again.

Day 54 we left Kansas City to head towards Omaha, Nebraska. Tony very pleased to see a round-a-bout a few miles northwest of Kansas City. We stopped too long on a road in Leavenworth Kansas (a cop pulled up behind us with lights flashing, only to ask if we were lost). Passed by the U. S. Penitentiary (huge place) – visitors welcome, but we chose not to visit. On to Atchison, Kansas (home of Amelia Earhart) to see the outside train museum (Tony finally got to get up into a steam engine). Drove outside of town to see the one acre earth work portrait of Amelia Earhart (composed of permanent plantings, stone and other natural materials), dedicated to Amelia near the Mount Vernon cemetery (cemetery had a small size Washington monument in the middle) (http://www.lasr.net/pages/city.php?City_ID=KS0701001&VA=Y&Attraction_ID=KS0701001a006).

Next stop was Hiawatha Kansas Mount Hope Cemetery with the Davis Memorial (seems to be our week for cemeteries). Quite an interesting story behind this memorial (http://skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Hiawatha/davis.html) - eleven life-size statutes made in Italy of Italian marble of Mr. & Mrs. Davis. Town of Hiawatha was not happy that he didn’t leave more to the town; however, now due to features in Newsweek, Life, and People magazines and on a TV version of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, 20-30,000 people from across the U.S. and around the world come as tourists to this small town.

Tony wants it known that "as well as living through a rainstorm that dropped eleven inches of water in one day in Texas, we stayed at a house in Kansas City that was only 25 miles from a tornado. The T.V. advised that people should lay face down in a damned ditch if they were caught out in the tornado." This was a direct quote from Tony. As you can tell, England does not experience such weather changes as we have seen – to date, out extremes on this trip have been 15 to 92 degrees. I want you to know that travelling with Tony has been an experience!

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Installment #11 - Retirement Trip


Last stop in Texas was Eisenhower’s birth place in Denison, Texas….then moved along Highway 69 to cross the Texas border into Oklahoma. As we drove north through Oklahoma, there were a lot of wildfires on all sides…did see one that had burned right up to Highway 69, with fire fighters there. We stopped overnight at the Choctaw Casino in McAlester. There was live music playing which Tony thoroughly enjoyed while Sharon donated to the slot machines.

Next stop was the Coal Miner’s Memorial Plaza in McAlester (listing 1700 names of coal miners who lost their lives. Also was a memorial to Carl Albert (local coal miner’s son who came within one-step of the Presidency two different times…one when Spiro Agnew quit and again when Richard Nixon quit. Sharon mentioned a kiwi farm up the road – Tony was very interested – so off we went (6 miles west, 4 miles south). As we got closer signs indicated kiwi plants. Tony thought it was going to be the kiwi bird – to him that would be amazing to see. End result, we had to unload the car to turn around within a mile of the kiwi plants, after going down a dirt road – lakes all around, all roads a dead end.

Saw a huge sign near Checotah OK, stating this was the home of the winner of American Idol TV program….this didn’t help Tony’s impression of Oklahoma. J Next stop was the USS Batfish submarine (http://www.batfish.org/) …what an experience that was…being on top of and walking completely through the submarine. USS Batfish, launched in 1943…no other sub was able to do what the Batfish did…she sank 3 submarines, plus 11 other vessels for a total of over 37,000 tons of enemy shipping. Fifty-two submarines were lost during WW II – this park had a memorial to all of them with bronze stands naming each ship and its crew, 3605 brave sailors in all!

Overnight stop in Wal-mart at Vinita for a few more groceries. Next morning we chose to eat in the Worlds’ Largest McDonalds in Vinita, OK. Mini Will Rogers museum about Oklahoma’s favorite son – one who said "I never met a man I didn’t like", and (he was an Indian) "My ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but they met the boat". We then got onto Highway 2 to avoid the costly Oklahoma turnpikes, heading towards Miami OK.

We stopped in Miami to see the "mighty Wurlitzer" at the Coleman theatre on Route 66. Unfortunately it was closed on Monday. After stopping at the tourist bureau, a person there called Barbara Smith, the manager of the theatre. Barbara and her husband came down, opened the theatre, and gave us a two hour tour….well worth the visit. (http://www.coleman.miami.ok.us/).

Drove on through Welch OK (June and Johnny Cash country….Tony was thrilled J ). Saw sign about a "storm spotter school….which didn’t help the "nervous" Tony at all. On to Commerce OK – lots of very high sand piled all around this town – the birthplace of Mickey Mantle. Next entered the state of Kansas, saw llamas outside of Columbus KS, lots of railroad tracks everywhere (most of them being used), a bison herd in Pittsburgh KS.

Stopped at Big Brutus near West Mineral KS (http://www.bigbrutus.org/). A 16 story excavator for rapidly moving the over burden away from a coal mine.

Arrived in Fort Scott – took some pictures of the #1 National Cemetery, one of 12 original National Cemeteries designated by President Abraham Lincoln.

End of Day 50 with 128 miles driven today. Plan to look around Fort Scott tomorrow and then head into Kansas City MO to see Wanda Colburn.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Installment #10 - Retirement Trip


Thanks again to all of you who reply to our emails. Laundry, trip to Camping World in Denton, TX, and a little TV for rest and relaxation comprised our Day 44 on the road. After the downpour over the week-end in Dallas, the weather has turned cold. Watching the weather and hearing from NE and SD relatives, makes us know we are going to stay south for a while longer. Of course, there was the day when we saw it was 62 in Moscow and 32 here in Dallas.

Sharon just had to go to South Fork to see the ranch where "Dallas" (http://www.southfork.com/) was filmed…actually (picture of house, picture of Sharon sitting at table and chairs used in the filming of "Dallas") the story behind the family that lived in the house prior to and during the Dallas filming was almost more interesting. We saw lots of "Dallas" memorabilia in the museum portion. Picture of Tony and Sharon in mirror in one of the lavishly decorated bathrooms in the "Dallas" home.

We did take in Las Colinas in Irving TX, nearby Dallas….the "Mustangs of Las Colinas" (http://oror.essortment.com/mustangslascol_rvqo.htm) , the flower clock, the shopping along the canals, and the marble cows. Next on to Farmers Branch (www.farmersbranch.info/parksrec/historicalpark.html) to see 22 acre historical park, 1885 Queen Anne Victorian Cottage, 1877 depot, caboose (neither of us have ever been inside a caboose, picture attached), one room school house, church, land grant office, and lots of other buildings. On down the road was the "Miracle Mile of Furniture" (78 furniture and home accessory stores along this road).

Day 47 – Drove by the Texas Speedway (huge), and Dale Earnhardt Drive, then on to a tour of the Bureau of Engraving & Printing (http://www.moneyfactory.gove/)(click on Fort Worth (one of two in the U.S., other one in Washington D.C.). Was a great tour, but lots of security to get in. Next was a stop at the American Airlines museum (http://www.crsmithmuseum.org/) – lots of information, great IMAX movie taking us from L.A. to London. Our next stop was Cabela’s (picture) (the world’s foremost outfitter of hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear). This place was amazing – Hundreds of animals displayed…Tony and I even took part in a little target practice at an interesting corner of the store.

We will be leaving the Dallas area on Day 48, Saturday, and heading for Oklahoma, and Kansas to see what other interesting things we can find to see.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Installment #9 - Retirement Trip


Days 38 and 39 on the road. Lots of interesting country when we headed towards Austin. Stopped by to see the Collin Street Bakery where the fruitcakes are made and shipped to every state in the USA and 193 countries (the ones Clair Colburn used to send to us every year). Had a great overnight stay at Sharon’s cousin’s home (Chuck) in Lakeway TX. http://lakewayresort.com/index.asp Chuck’s place of work.
Water tower leading to that town was shaped like a golf ball on top of a very tall column. Chuck’s home backed up to the 18th hole of one of the golf courses in the area. He had quite a house full – 3 dogs (one an old English Sheepdog, 2 rabbits, 2 birds, turtles, aquarium, and small fish bowl). Tony and I were each given a lint remover when we got there to remove the dog hair whenever we felt the need. J

On Day 40, we left the friends in Mabank and went up the road towards Dallas. Stopped for an overnight stay in Seagoville. We sat for a couple of hours just watching the birds fly from tree to electric line. Neither of us had ever seen so many birds. Began to think we were in a scene from Alford Hitchcock’s movie, "The Birds". When it began to get dark, Tony was concerned about where they were all going to go for the night.

Called back home for messages – Tony now has an order to make 25 rug frames for United Notions in Dallas – he called and asked them if they could wait 6-8 weeks for them – answer "yes". That was good news.

Drove down the freeway into Dallas at the peak of a long, long rain storm that dropped 11 inches of rain that day. Spent the week-end with Sharon’s friend Anita and husband Bill.
Day 43 – ready to tour Dallas. Found an RV park on a lake yesterday…will probably stay here for 4-6 days and see the sites. Tony and I drove into Dallas, whipped into the first parking lot we saw near the JFK memorial. We began walking (probably walked four miles looking at sites for the day) – JFK memorial, Red building (formerly courthouse, now a tourist bureau), Texas book depository, "the grassy knoll". We walked slowly around the whole area where John Kennedy was assassinated and took pictures – spooky. It was pretty obvious by what people were looking at, how they were looking at it and what they were saying that this incident hit the USA very, very hard. They were still selling newspapers on the street showing all the sordid details of the occasion – we dipped into capital and bought one. Continued on walking to Thanksgiving plaza (arrived there just in time to hear the bells toll). Got on the trolley to see the Dallas arts district – trolley was put out of commission in early 30’s, some guy lived in it for 30 years before it was found and restored and put back in use….driver of trolley was more than willing to tell us about everything we were seeing. Walked to the Fountain plaza building, and then to the convention center - huge place - took picture of world's largest bronze monument, 40 Texas longhorn steers and 3 cowboys on horses, in pioneer plaza. Walked on down to see Gilleys of Dallas – they are only open on Fridays and Saturdays. We did go in and take a couple of pictures.

Evening was spent with Pat and Anita (Sharon’s two high school friends) in the motor home.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Installment #8 - Retirement Trip


Thanks again to all of you for the emails and phone calls we are receiving.
Additional information for you - a web site about the Loretto chapel we talked about in Installment #7. http://www.answers.com/topic/loretto-chapel
Our next big stop was Lubbock (now out of New Mexico and into Texas). We stopped at the American Windmill museum – amazing that the beginning of this collection came from Nebraska. http://www.windmill.com/
On our highway drive this afternoon, we say 4 dead skunks on side of the road within 3 miles, loads of cattle feeding ranches, hundreds of oil wells (Tony calls them "nodding donkeys"), one drilling derrick, lots of cotton fields, one bale of cotton in one field, a lot of the new wind generators, a still in business drive-in movie, a cotton warehouse, and many, many trains. Finally saw some long horn cattle outside of Baird.

Unusual signs seen – "La Quinta – Spanish for ‘high speed internet’"; "If you must curse, use your own name. ~God"; "far wood, fer sale";
Stopped in Cisco TX to see first hotel purchased by Conrad Hilton in 1919 – story is that it was the only way he could get a place to sleep. He then rented rooms for eight-hour shifts, tripling the normal income, to oil field workers. http://www.ciscotx.com/ciscopd/conradhilton.html

On to Weatherford TX and a drive by of home where Mary Martin was born and Larry Hagman (JR of Dallas, Mary Martin’s son) was raised.
Next to Forth Worth TX to the stockyards and Billy Bob’s (world’s largest honky tonk). Saw cattle drive down main street of the stockyards.
Motorhome now at friends south of Dallas. We’re in the car heading even further south of Waco to visit a cousin of Sharon’s.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Installment #7 - Retirement Trip

Santa Fe – Spent two nights at a Wal-Mart with a security guard riding around the parking lot in a pickup with yellow light flashing all day and night.

Thanks for all the birthday calls and emails to Sharon.

Santa Fe is at 7000 feet, nights were in mid-30s F. When we left this morning the radio said wind gusts of 65. We decided to stay off interstates for a change – unfortunately there wasn’t much to see on the route we picked (Highway 285 south, heading for Lubbock TX.
Santa Fe was worth the stop – We began yesterday morning by catching the City bus to the Loretto Chappel and much more. People on bus were very friendly (one lady - w/her husband, looked as if they were bums?? - had lived in Moscow 3 years, husband had lived in Seattle for many, many years). These two marked our map and told us where to go to see the best sights.
When we first got off the bus we walked past the Santa Fe Palace of Governors where lines of New Mexicans were sitting all bundled up with there hand-made wares on the sidewalk ready to sell to tourists. Saw lots of bronze statutes.
The Loretto Chappel (picture) with the winding staircase was well worth the visit. We walked to Burro Alley, once a bawdy saloon and gambling district, this street is named for the burros that carried firewood to be sold here. Then on to Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi which had a 380 year old statue of the Virgin Mary inside.
We walked on around town by the Santa Fe river to the oldest house in USA, and then into the San Miguel Mission Church (said to be the oldest church in USA). Saw paintings on buffalo hides done in the 1600s.

On down to Forth Sumner to see Billy the Kid museum (the guy just named it Billy the Kid so tourists would stop). He had a lot of information and memorabilia about Billy the Kid, but mainly it was a collection of everything old – what a place: cameras, typewriters, dishes, farm equipment, old cars, and on and on.

Next to Clovis (they have a brick main street just like Alliance NE – my hometown). Over 100 trains go through Clovis each day. USA’s largest pawn shop was there – covered one city block – we spent over an hour in there – and yes, spent some money too. Tony found a large vice – something he has been looking for for a long time.
Travelled on down highway to Waylon Jennings birthplace and stopped for lunch on Waylon Jennings Boulevard (Littlefield TX).

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Installment #6 - Retirement Trip

Yes we’re back on the road again after a spot of illness (Tony) kept us in Quartzsite for a few days. We bimbled along the highways in a north westerly direction to Flagstaff, Arizona, to an altitude of 7500 ft. which lowered the temperature considerably and visited the Sunset Crater National Park – the raw leading edge of a massive lava flow which cooled and has been left alone for many, many years – spooky. This, like many other National Parks, is not a small isolated area but goes on for miles and miles with numerous volcanoes at the eastern end of the Grand Canyon.
Next we saw another wonder, the massive meteor crater near Winslow, Arizona. Wow, this thing is huge measuring nearly one mile diameter.
Today by stark contrast we visited the Petrified Forest also in Arizona. Again this covered a very large area, a 37 mile drive, where we saw weird and wonderful rock formations that were created 250 million years ago when this area was far closer to the equator, and hundreds and hundreds of petrified logs just lying there over acres and acres – the larger logs weigh several tens of tons each, because they’ve been slowly (this if for outlaw Jim) been impregnated with silica from overlying volcanic ash which has reacted with the cellulose in the wood tissues thus crystallising and producing a massive increase in weight and a dramatic colour spectrum.
Tomorrow we hope to see and photograph the world famous staircase in Sant Fe New Mexico, where the spiral stairway was cut, carved and built by a no-name carpenter many years ago without a central spine or datum axis.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Installment #5 - Retirement Trip

Finally left Quartzsite on Sunday…have seen Sunset Volcanic crater and park – spooky lava flow all over the place. Next on to Meteor Crater in Arizona – what a site. On our way now to Petrified Forest, and then should travel into New Mexico today. Will send a more detailed message later. Just happen to find this wi-fi spot as we were driving through Holbrook, AZ, on Historic Route 66 on way to petrified forest. Interesting motorhome (picture).

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