Friday, April 24, 2015

Canton, Missouri

IMG_20150420_145700955_HDR(Chuck) For several years we have wanted to find a place on the Mississippi River and watch the tug boats and barges as they make their way on the river. Looking in Days End, we found a place to stay just up river from Hannibal in Canton, MO. There is a very nice city RV park which is located right on the banks of the Mississippi River. We stayed in a site which was immediately below Lock and Dam #20. We had a front row seat to the barge traffic as the progressed up and down the waterway. The full tows on this part of the river seem to be fifteen barges. Three wide and five barges long is an impressive sight. Each barge is about 200 feet long and 35 feet wide, which makes the total length of the tow to be over 1000 feet long. Each barge can carry 1,500 tons of commodities. Each year 60 million tons of grain are moved downstream for export. In addition to grain, coal, petro chemical products, lumber wood products and sand and gravel are moved to markets.IMG_20150420_145755947

It was a treat to watch as the tow boats maneuvered the barges out of the locks and into the river. The larger boats are over 150 feet long. The big diesel engines which develop up to 10,000 horsepower leave the water churning for several minutes after the tow has moved down the river. We stayed on this site for four days as we enjoyed the river experience.IMG_20150420_190034008

IMG_20150421_141847778(Jan) We drove across the river to Quincy, Illinois one day to visit the Lincoln Douglas Interpretive Center and the John Wood Mansion. The Interpretive Center on the town square highlighted the 6th Senatorial Debate between ‘Judge’ Stephen Douglas and Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Their series of debates centered around slave and states rights issues. Douglas won the Senate office but one year latter Lincoln was nominated as the new Republican Party’s IMG_20150421_122303108_HDRcandidate for President.

We also toured the John Wood’s Mansion. Wood and Lincoln who were both Whig party members, worked to establish the Republican party. Wood was an Illinois Governor.  The town of Quincy was named for the 6th U.S. President John Quincy Adams and one of his desks is in the Woods mansion. While in Quincy we had lunch at Fatbacks Smokin’ Racks BBQ. Pretty darn good!  Could had used a sharp knife and a real fork but the flavor was pretty amazing.

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IMG_20150423_123106371(Chuck) As we moved North into Iowa we stopped at my cousin Kathy’s place to re-connect after several years and to exchange some genealogy information. I came out with some excellent photos of our common IMG_20150424_122955816ancestors and I left my research with her. We brought our scanner to her house and scanned many photos of family members which I did not have. It is a good way to share photos. We had a great visit with Kathy and Jim and also had a good meal at a local BBQ restaurant and some excellent ice cream for desert.

(Jan) On our way to Ames today we stopped in Pella, Iowa to see the Tulips!  Pella was founded in 1847 when eight hundred Dutch immigrants settled the area. Each year Pella hosts their annual Tulips Festival featuring millions of beautiful blooms.  We were a little early for the festival but certainly got in on seeing the fabulous tulips!



Tulip Time
Pella, Iowa





(Chuck) We have now moved on to Ames, Iowa to spend time with family. Tomorrow we will attend a vocal concert at Iowa State University in which our grandson is participating.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hannibal, Missouri

IMG_20150417_161540984(Jan) When Chuck and I discovered that we had twelve days between family events we swapped ideas about where to go. Chuck suggested Hannibal, Missouri and I’m sure glad he did. Probably best knows as Samuel Clemen’s boyhood home, the waterfront of this town of 17,000 sits right on the banks of the Mississippi 0c88f18962893b367dc5ea371c5937d0River so it has a levee to protect the town against floods. We found a great boondocking spot at 3rd & Lyon Streets not too far from the riverfront activities.

Samuel Clement grew up on this riverfront. His father died when Samuel was 11 and soon after he quit school and began working as a type setter at the local newspaper. This gave him a set of clothes and meals and allowed him to write an occasional story. But among the lads growing up along the Mississippi, the grandest ambition of all was to be a steamboat pilot, a goal which Clement did realize. Piloting a Steamboat on the river took a great deal of savvy in reading the current and knowing where the sandbars were forming. The Steamboat required a depth of two fathoms for safe passage. To measure this a Leadsman would drop a knotted or marked rope and when the water level reached the depth of the second knot, he would call out ‘mark twain’.IMG_20150418_141911287

When writing in those days, it was fashionable to have a pen name and thus Clemen’s Mark Twain was born. Mark Twain went on to write articles in newspaper & magazines and to author many books. He was a much loved humorist and there wasIMG_20150418_135940457_HDR a great demand for his Speeches. On a trip down the Mississippi for his book ‘Life on the Mississippi’, Clements visited his old home town and the memories of his boyhood there came flooding back. The book ‘Tom Sawyer’ based on his boyhood in Hannibal soon followed. The sequel ‘Huckleberry Finn’ was written some years later after much struggle and contemplation. It is now called by many, the First Great American Novel.

We enjoyed our time here immensely. A treat for us was a boat ride on the Mark Twain Riverboat. It was wonderful being out on the mighty Mississippi and seeing the sights along the river! We also hiked up to the Mark Twain memorial Lighthouse for a panoramic view of the area on the north side of town and drove up to Lovers Leap on the south side of towIMG_20150418_162731267_HDRn for another amazing view.

In Hannibal we bought a pass which gave us entrance to the Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher homes, the Clemen’s Justice of the Peace Office, Grant’s Drug Store, the Museum Gallery and theIMG_20150418_150910680 Interpretive Center. We enjoyed the houses and the Interpretive Center but we felt the gem was the Museum. The Mark Twain film shown there was by Ken Burns and it was amazing! Also the storyboards and pictures brought Mark Twain to life.

We did drive south of town after driving to Lovers Leap and found a Memorial to the town of Ilasco. Founded in 1901 byIMG_20150417_170711593_HDR the Atlas Portland Cement Company, a large Eastern European population was recruited to work there. The town’s name is an acronym for the ingredients of concrete - iron, lead, aluminum, silicon, calcium and oxygen. Ilasco provided cement for the Panama Canal as well as many building and bridges in the east before it’s closing in 1963 when the former town of 3,000 declined. It was a839f84a99f82a85f883871a8749dc6funincorporated as much of the community property was used when highway 79 was re-routed. There are still two active churches there.

On our way back to town we came upon an old cemetery. Chuck knew that some relatives of his who had gone to California in the 1849 Gold Rush days returned to this area to settle. We decided to walk through and sure enough, we found several family graves. Such a neat discovery!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Finding Lincoln in Springfield

IMG_20150415_155408617(Jan) Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 in Kentucky and moved with his family when he was a young lad to a one room cabin in Little Pigeon Creek, Indiana.  There he was expected to work hard and contribute to the support of his family.  His mother died when he was 9. His father remarried and Lincoln got on quite well with his stepmother Sarah.  Along with his chores he loved to read. He was tall and strong for his age and was expected to give his wages to his father until the age of 21. The family moved to Illinois in 1830 and as the family prepared to move again in 1831, Lincoln was old enough to set out on his own. In New Salem, Illinois he worked on the rivers between there and New Orleans delivering goods, co-owned a general store, was the Post Master, a Surveyor and began to teach himself to be a lawyer. He ran for political office for the first time in 1932. Although he was unsuccessful, he ran again in 1934, was IMG_20150416_133439843_HDRelected and served four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives. In 1836 Lincoln began practicing Law. He met his future wife, Mary Todd in 1838 and they were married in 1842. They bought the only house they would ever own in Springfield on the corner of 8th and Jackson Streets close to his Law Office. Children Robert, 1843, Edward, 1846, Willie 1850 and Tad 1853 were all born in Springfield. Lincoln and Mary loved children and were permissive and active parents. They were heart broken when their son Edward died in 1850 of Tuberculosis.

All of this and so much more can be found on the history of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln in Springfield. Lincoln’s Home and neighborhood is within a National Park. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Lincoln movie at the visitors center, going through the Lincoln home and touring his neighborhood including several of his neighbor’s houses. We were there on April 15, 2015, 150 years after President Lincoln’s death on April 15, 1865. His home was IMG_20150415_160436483draped in black as it had been for his funeral years earlier.

The Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library are downtown. The Museum takes you through his early years, family times, political history, their time in the While House, son Willie’s death from Typhoid Fever, the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation and Lincoln’s Assassination on April 14, 1865. He was 56 years old. Mary, age 46, was sitting by his side holding his arm as they watched ‘Our American Cousin’ at Fords Theatre in Washington, D.C. The Civil War had just ended 6 days before.

IMG_20150415_155653495 IMG_20150415_155223923_HDRMary Todd Lincoln, above

Tad, Robert, Mary, Abraham and Willie in front of the White House, left
IMG_20150415_120432167Lincoln’s Cabinet discussing the Emancipation Proclamation
IMG_20150415_154927253_HDRGenerals; the very aristocratic George Meade and the frontiersman Ulysses Grant IMG_20150415_155245661Harriet Tubman & Frederick Douglass, above

John Wilkes Booth, right

IMG_20150416_152812263IMG_20150414_150242622When Lincoln died, Mary requested that he be buried at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. After funeral services in Washington, D.C. the President’s body was taken by train back to Illinois where funeral services were again held and he was buried in a temporary vault on May 1, 1865.  Lincoln’s casket was moved into a white marble sarcophagus in the burial room in the present Lincoln Tomb in IMG_20150416_1123489381874. He is buried there with his wife Mary and three of their sons, Edward, William and Thomas.

While we were in Springfield we visited the Old State Capitol and the Capitol Complex where Illinois’ Governor and legislatures now meet. Lincoln worked in both of IMG_20150416_111316141these buildings. On the day that we were there, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was speaking at a Holocast Remembrance in the old Legislative Chamber. At the ‘new’ Illinois Capitol Building we were able to visit the Senate in session. The new Illinois Capitol building inside and out is truly impressive.IMG_20150416_121822258_HDR

IMG_20150416_114743390_HDRWe have wanted to go to Springfield, Illinois for quite a while and are so happy that we had time to visit ‘the Land of Lincoln.’ While we were there we stayed at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.  They have parking both on pavement and on grass. FHU sites were $20/night for seniors.  It was fairly quiet and very close to downtown and to Oak Ridge Cemetery.

In this lifestyle we are often asked, “What’s your favorite place that you’ve been?” The Lincoln History sites and Springfield is one of them.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Living in a Motor Home

DSC_7661(Chuck) Living in a motorhome is always a challenge when it comes to maintenance and repairs. When you live in a stick house, you don’t need to change the oil and lube the chassis. You probably don’t clean the solar panels, turn on the inverter or monitor the state of charge of your house batteries. Tires need maintenance and the exterior needs polish occasionally. Fortunately we have a pretty good quality motor home, but we still spend time “keeping it up”. On our way to Illinois we stopped at Speedco in Walcott, Iowa. Oil change and chassis lubrication. I picked up fuel filters for “just in case”. Our home is powered  with an 8.9 Litre turbo charged after cooled diesel engine with 400 horsepower. We seem to normally put around 10,000 miles on each year so the oil change is once a year. If you took your stick house and drove it across the country on rough roads you may shake things loose once in a while. We find that happens occasionally and we deal with it. I tell people that if those things bothered me that I would have to park it in a garage and visit it once in a while.IMG_20150406_171259293_thumb3 However we own this thing to use, and that is what we will do.

Our house has several heating systems. Both air conditioners are also heat pumps. We do not use them because we have a Kozy World ventless heater which is 100% efficient. We are commonly is a very mild temperature environment and it works to quickly heat the house in theIMG_20150406_153532609_thumb4 morning. When we are plugged in we also have a Hydro Hot which is a boiler system which heats water and pipes hot water to several heat exchangers. It is an efficient and relatively quiet heating system. The motor had recently quit in the front heat exchanger and I ordered a new motor from Roger Berke who runs an excellent forum concerning  RV Hydronic Heating Repair. The install of the new motor was quite a challenge because the access to the exchanger was through an electrical panel in the dash of the motorhome. It took several hours working in a tight area, but I did get the job done and I am happy with it.

Also this week our refrigerator has IMG_20150406_142333056_thumb5given us some problems. Two years ago we installed what is known as an Amish Cooling Unit on the Norcold fridge.  Here is the URL for that install. It has been very successful. Saturday I had a code fault blink on the fridge readout thatIMG_20150414_180400322_HDR_thumb2 stopped the fridge. NO CO is a code for bad news on a Norcold. I was sure that it was not the cooling unit and when I looked through the service manual it suggested that the circuit board should be reset. That is not a small job on our rig because the control board is not very accessible. I have had it apart before and I took it apart and reset the circuit board and things have been good since. I do carry a spare board which I probably should have installed, however I wanted to see if the reset would work. If I need to put the Dinosaur board in someday, I still have it. At this time the fridge is happily cooling along.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Family week-end in Ames

(Jan) On a rainy Thursday afternoon we headed out on the road to Ames.  Our oldest grandson is at Iowa State and we had a date for an early dinner with him.  He had picked out his favorite place, Hickory Park, so we picked him up at the Memorial Union on his way home from class. Ryan is a delight to be with and we sure enjoyed getting to know about his college life here at ISU. Next up was a stop at Brent and Donna’s house to say hello, pick up a few items of mail and check out a project that was planned for the next day. Luckily we found a great boondocking spot not too far from their 11101817_10203883178546290_6538878137342537224_nhouse. For the four nights we were in Ames we stayed at a closed Foods store parking lot.

Friday morning Chuck and Brent took out the kitchen sink at Brent & Donna’s house and replaced it with a soap stone sink that matches their counter tops beautifully.  A new faucet set was installed, the sink dispose-all was re-installed and Donna was a very happy gal. Brent next took a look at my computer.  It’s been running slowly and it was terrific to have a 056computer expert take a look at it!

This year Stephen decided as a Senior to go out for Soccer for the first time. Friday evening was his first Soccer game and he scored the only and winning goal! Nice start to the season.067

On Saturday we went over to the house for lunch and visiting and playing with the kids.  Stephen showed us his pictures from a cruise he went on with a friend over spring break. We helped Anne finish a puzzle that she wants to hang on her wall and Gramma, Libby and Maddy played a game of Chutes & Ladders. Grandpa let the girls take lots of pictures with his and my phones and we finished the day with a game of Rummikub with the Annie, Stephen and Michael.

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IMG_20150412_131123424_HDRSunday was Confirmation Day for Katie. Our son Eric & grandson Ryan and Donna’s parents arrived for a dinner to celebrate Katie’s special day. We had a lovely dinner followed by carrot cake and chocolate fudge cupcakes. There was time for familyIMG_20150412_161345161 visiting and games; Michael wanted to tackle Rummikub again. The Confirmation Mass was beautiful followed by cookies, coffee and lemonade at their church. At left are Katie and Uncle Eric, her godfather; at right Katie is with her family. Our family day ended with everyone headed back to our homes in the late afternoon. We are so happy to have had such a wonderful time with family. Thanks for the warm welcome,the tasty meals and the computer help Brent & Donna!

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