Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another COE Park and Mark Twain

We really like staying at the Corps of Engineer parks. Especially since, with the Golden Age pass we can stay for half price. The parks were we stayed on the Mississippi River cost us $9.00 a night. This park in Missouri on Mark Twain Lake is only $8.00 a night. They do have some full hook up sites here at Ray Behrens park, they would be $12.00 a night, but they were all full when we came in last Saturday. The parks are sometimes out of the way, we are about 25 miles from Hannibal, but they have all been well cared for, clean parks. I had bought the book RVer's Guide to Corps of Engineers Campgrounds before we started this life style and have just now started to look for these parks. I will be using the book a lot more now. You can make reservations through Reserve America, but we would rather just take our chances since they do have about half of the sites as non-reservable sites.

We have been touring the area for the past couple of days. Yesterday we went to Hannibal and toured the area of Mark Twain's childhood and today we toured his birth home in the little town of Florida, Missouri. Here are some pictures we took in Hannibal.

We toured the interpretive center, his home, and the museum. I never knew that Norman Rockwell did the illustrations for Tom Sawyer and Huckaberry Finn. His original paintings are in the museum. I think I need to go back and read his books. He never finished school, his father died when he was 10 and he was sent to work for his older brother is his printing shop.

He spent some years as a riverboat pilot. Years later he remembered how they measured the depth of the water. A lead weight attached to a rope was tossed out in front of the boat. A series of knots were tied in the rope at measured distances, A mark is the same as a fathom on the ocean - six feet. Twain means two. A knot at 'mark twain' thus meant twelve feet, a safe depth for riverboats. Thus he interpreted Mark Twain as "safe water ahead".

In Florida, his birthplace we toured the museum that actually has his birth house inside. The museum was designed by his only living daughter, Clare. It was built around the original house.

Mark Twain was born 2 months early in November 1836 with Haleys Comet in the sky. He died 74 years later in 1910 again with Haleys Comet in the sky!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reagan Birthplace and Boyhood Home

We have been here at Sunset Lakes RV Park since last Saturday. This is the view out our front window. That's Ed over there fishing!

Monday we finally got the motorhome washed and we were going to start waxing, however it started to rain yesterday morning and it rain all day!!!

So we decided to go for a ride. I knew that Ronald Reagan had grown up in Dixon, Illinois so that was where we were headed. Before we got to Dixon though we started seeing signs for his birthplace. We arrived in the small town of Tampico and got to see the apartment where he was actually born.

There is a picture of this apartment with a rainbow that seems to end at the building. This rainbow appeared after a local thunderstorm on the day he was elected president. Its said that he kept that picture for inspiration during his presidency.

When he was just 3 months old, his father got a job in Dixon. Ronald Reagan lived in Dixon until he went to college.

Both the apartment in Tampico and the house in Dixon have been restored, however the furnishings are of the era but did not actually belong to them.

It was an enjoyable drive and we arrived back at the RV park to see that our neighbors had left. We were very happy about this, as these people would get up at very early to start a fire and would keep this fire burning all day long! It was very close to the rear of our motorhome and the wind would carry the smoke right over the motorhome. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a fire in the evening also but I see no reason to have one going all day long. They were not using this fire to cook, just sitting around it all day. We are very glad they are gone.

Today it is still very cloudy and shows signs of raining again so we are going to the casino for a while. Wish us luck!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Corp of Engineers Park

We left Thompson Causeway COE park last Monday and spent 3 nights at the Isle of Capri Casino. We had no hook ups, we were boondocking but the lot was quiet and level so we stayed. Monday Ed played in a poker tournament but didn't do well.

Tuesday we traveled the area some and discovered that William F. Cody, aka Buffalo Bill was born right here in LeClaire, Iowa. We toured what was supposed to be the Buffalo Bill Museum but actually it turned out to be more of a museum of antiques from LeClaire. They also have an original steamboat that they are restoring.

Wednesday Ed went to play poker and won back what he lost in the tournament so we enjoyed dinner at the buffet. Prime Rib and peel and eat shrimp that was excellent!! We did stuff ourselves!!

Thursday we moved over to this COE park, Fisherman's Corner. It is a much smaller park than Thompson, but it is just as nice. Here is our site. Not on the river but you can walk to it.

Here is a white pelican fishing amongst the lily pads.

And the lily pads have big yellow flowers.

Tomorrow we move to Sunset Lake RV park. We need to take some time to wash and wax the motorhome before moving on.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Galena, Illinois

Yesterday we drove back to the town of Galena, Illinois. This was the home of Ulysses Grant before the Civil War. Grant had graduated from West Point and served in the Mexican War. He settled his family in Galena where he worked in his father's leather goods store. He was appointed by the Governor to command the volunteer regiment from Illinois. By September 1861 he had risen to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers. Of course, everyone knows he became Commanding General of the Union Army and accepted General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Virginia.

Between the years that the war ended and he became President, the family still lived in Galena. The house had 5 bedrooms upstairs, with a parlor, library and dining room downstairs. The kitchen also had a room off it that held a built in bathtub!!

This town is very proud of their relationship with the Grant's. They have a beautiful park with this statue of Grant and outside the house is this statue of Julia Dent Grant.

Tomorrow we are moving down and across the river to the Davenport area. I will be very glad to get away from these mayflies. This park would have been ideal if not for them. Think I would rather have misquotes!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stormy Nights

Storms started coming through Dubuque, Iowa late last night. Thunder, lightning, wind and hard rain. Needless to say, we got very little sleep. When its a nice gentle rain it will lull you to sleep, but when its a hard rain like last night, the rain really pounds the roof. We only had about an hour to drive today, so looking at the weather map we left Dubuque about 9:30am and just arrived at our new location before the next storm hit. It was a little windy but the rain held off.

We are at Thomson Causeway Corp of Engineer park. It took us 4 different sites to find one where Ed could get his satellite, but we finally found one. The park is very nice, we have a very long 50 amp site right on the Mississippi River. Everything would be just perfect if it wasn't for the may flies. They are all over the motorhome. According to the ranger, they only live 24 hours but they are hatching as fast as they are dying!!

This is our site. That's the Mississippi River. Ed stepped out of the motorhome and found this visitor.

There are turtles all over the place here!!

We are here for the next 3 days. There is another COE park a little further down route 84. We may check it out!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

If you build it....

They will come. Today we did go there...the movie site of Field of Dreams. It looks just like it did when the film was made!!

Here is a picture of the farm house. The fence was added after the movie was made. I think it was put up to keep people away from the house. People do still live there.

This is the ball field from behind home plate.

The bleachers and the outfield.

And the corn fields where the players came from.
This is looking from first base to second base,
while standing by the bleachers.

The field is open and as you can see, several families where playing ball. During the summer, on the last Sunday of the month, the 'ghost players' actually stage a game here. Wish we could have seen that but, again, our timing was off. Maybe we will come back by here next summer! Remember the final scene of the movie, where you see all the lights from the cars coming down the road? The road leading up to the farm is actually like that, two lane country road!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lazy Days

Haven't posted in a while so will try to catch up.

We did go into the little town of Morton for their July 4th fireworks. It was a fun little gathering. Had some music..watched the tractor pulls.

The children participated in these tractor pulls. The further they pedaled the heavier it became. It was very cute to watch. Fireworks are legal to have in Minnesota, a lot of people at the park had their own. It looked like a war zone before the main fireworks even started!

We relaxed all day Sunday and Monday Ed played golf while I did the laundry. We had to take the screens off the windows and vacuum them. They have all this white stuff blowing in the air, looks like the dandelions blowing but found out it comes from the Cottonwood trees. Since the weather has been nice, we have had the windows open and the fans going and the screens were just covered. Yesterday we went over to the casino to play Bingo. We both won so it was a good afternoon.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July!

Reflect on what we are celebrating today. No matter your politics, we live in the greatest country in the world. Remember our forefathers who fought for our independence and the sacrifice of those service people who are still fighting for democracy. No one says it better than Nick Russell so if you get a chance, please read his blog for today. You can use the link on our blog.

We are still at Jackpot Juction Casino in Morton, Minnesota. The very small town of Morton is having a parade and fireworks in the park this evening. We drove around the area yesterday, found the golf course and a laundromat in Redwood Falls (another small town in the area). Then we drove into Morton to locate the park. This isn't even a one-stop light town. They only have a 4-way stop!!! But this is one of the reasons we wanted to travel. We want to experience small town America, so we will head over there later today.

I'll post pictures of the area around Morton at a later time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hobo Museum

We left Forest City, Iowa this morning to head 35 miles down the road to Mason City and the Walmart. We need to stay here tonight because it is right beside the Best Buy where we are having an XM radio installed.

On our way, we made a stop at the Hobo Museum in Britt, Iowa. It wasn't the best museum we have ever seen, but we did learn some things. The term 'Hobo' came into use because these wanderers would head out west to work on the great plains farms with hoes. They were first called 'hoe boys' and soon they shortened it to 'hobo'. We learned the difference between a hobo, tramp and bum.

A HOBO is a man who travels and works.
A TRAMP is a man who travels and does not work.
A BUM is a man who neither travels or works.

They had their own way of communicating by leaving symbols. Here is a picture of some of the symbols they used.

They used charcoal to make these marks to indicate everything from a good place to eat, to the best jails!

Tomorrow after the radio is installed, we are on our way to Morton, Minnesota and the Jackpot Casino. They have an RV park where we hope to settle in for the holiday weekend.