Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, totally worn out, shouting "Wow...What a Ride!"

Monday, July 31, 2017

Keeping Busy In Central IL

 May 1-July 31, 2017

A very overdue blog post....seems we've been keeping busy this summer.

May 1st marked our 4 year anniversary of Fulltime RV'ing. Where did the time go. We still love living the nomadic lifestyle and hope to continue for many years to come. We've learned a lot, made lots of great friends and had experiences we never would have had living in one place. We get to stay in some of the most beautiful places.

May started with lots of rain, by the time the rains quit the lake was up 20' from when we arrived. At this point the water levels have gone down but are still very high. Lake Shelbyville Dam was built for flood control. The Kaskaskia River is a tributary of the Mississippi River,  it is approximately 325 miles long, in central and southern Illinois. It is the second largest river system within Illinois, its lower reaches have been canalized to allow barge traffic. Due to the flooding along the Mississippi River the outflow of  Lake Shelbyville had remained the same with no increase. By the end of July the lake levels were just about back to normal.


My office for the summer
We are enjoying volunteering for the COE, our job in the visitor center has gone well. We generally work 2 days on and have 4 days off. We've learned a lot about the local area and have become more knowledgeable about the local area. The Visitor Center has an exhibit hall with information on the building of the dam in the late 60's along with info on some of the local history.

Rescued from the road and soon to be living at the visitor center

Our visitor center has tanks which have some of the local turtles in them. They are getting quite large and need to be re-homed. We've been asked to keep our eyes out for their replacements.

Our quilt

The visitor center recently hosted a quilt show. When we decided to leave VT one of my best friends, Deb, made us a quilt so we wouldn't forget we could ever forget her. I promised Deb if ever there was a quilt show I would enter my quilt, this was the first opportunity to do so.


Dave and I have done a few special projects here. Lithia Springs, one of the COE campgrounds here on Lake Shelbyville was closed for renovations earlier this summer. Dave and I were tasked with painting the outside of the older bathrooms at Lithia Springs.

They do look much better, the roof could use some attention but they say these bathrooms will be replaced in the near future.

We've had visits from lots of friends. In early May our friends, Curt & Glenda of Camp Lowry: That's How We Roll, were in another one of the COE parks on Lake Shelbyville. A morning of Dave and Curt working on their trailer brakes while Glenda and I went shopping was followed by a few wonderful afternoons/evenings filled with good food and lots of laughter. Too soon they moved on up the road, though we were fortunate  to be able to meet them for lunch, a few times, at a Mexican place located in between our places. You can read more about our visit with them here. Safe travels Curt & Glenda, we look forward to following your travels this summer and we'll see you in AZ.

Our next visitor was our friend Deb, we met her last winter while she was staying at our place, Gulf Waters Beachfront RV Resort, in Port Aransas TX. She was passing through the area on her way north and west and stopped for a few days to visit. She had never spent time in the bread basket of America and was intrigued by the rural farms, so different from other places. Thanks Deb for stopping by, we'll see you down the road somewhere.

May also seemed to be the month to do some modifications around the rv. We have taken out two of our dining chairs and replaced it with a bench with storage underneath.

We ordered a new loveseat, after 3 years our faux leather loveseat was peeling apart. Lazy-Boy had one that would fit in the small space we have, so much nicer.

We have redone our shackles and brakes, we now have self adjusting brakes, we will be taking a trip to WI in early August so we'll test them out then. We also finally put on the SteadyFast stabilizer bars so now we've put the kingpin stabilizer tripod in storage which frees up some room in the bed of the truck. We also have new jack pads thanks to our friends Curt & Glenda, so much nicer than the old wood pieces we were using.

By June the rains had let up and the lake started slowly going down. Our container garden went crazy, Dave started harvesting cherry tomatoes. We walked though the temps and humidity went way up so our mileage went way down. We don't get up till aboutt 7am, we start thinking about walking around 8:30-9am and by then it's just way too hot.

In June we had more friends visiting. Laurie and JP stopped by, for a couple of nights, on their way west, they had been in Elkhart IN ordering their new Luxe 5th wheel. We first met Laurie & JP at a 2016 Grand Design Rally in Quartzsite, they then stopped in Cave Creek for a short visit.  We've gotten to know them through Facebook but it was so much nicer getting to know them better in person. Thanks Laurie & JP for stopping by, can't wait to see your new home.

Laurie learning about Wannadingers
No sooner did Laurie & JP leave than our friends Debbie, Jeff & Rick stopped in for a few days. We first met Debbie & Jeff at the 2016 Grand Design Quartzsite Rally, we soon learned they lived in Cave Creek right near where we were hosting. Since the rally  they have sold their house, moved into their toy hauler and now also do volunteer hosting such as we do. In fact they took our place last winter hosting at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area and this winter we'll all be back hosting at Spur Cross. They stayed for 4 nights on their way north to WI. We enjoyed getting to know them better and look forward to spending time with them this winter.

Pat & Rena with the worlds largest windchime

Our next visitors were Pat & Rena whom we had spent time with last winter in Port Aransas TX where we both own lots at Gulf Waters Beachfront RV Resort. Unfortunately shortly before arriving here they lost their beloved Great Dane Muffin, we shared some great memories of her and shed a few tears...we miss her too. While theywere here we had to work (volunteer) but the rest of the time was spent catching up.

The worlds largest mailbox
July brought beautiful weather and more friends to visit. Friends Mark & Nancy came for a visit, since we've become RV'ers we've caught up them every time we've come to IL. The renewal of this friendship has been great and we always know we'll have a fun time with them, this time was no different. Lots of good food, laughter and conversation made the time with them fly by. One of the days we went to Casey IL-Small Town Big Things is their motto.

The weather was way too warm with heat indexes in the high 90's but we did have a few campfires. We had hoped Mark (Chief Pokem Wood) would use up lots of our wood but it didn't happen, we'll be taking wood with us when we go to see them in August.

Nancy knows how much Dave loves to cook bbq and thought he needed a shirt that exemplified his enjoyment of it.  If you know of the rv pajama craze that has swept facebook then you know the pj's Nancy got I'm not posting any pictures of me wearing them. Thanks Nancy & Mark for the thoughtful gifts.

While Mark & Nancy were here we received a message from Facebook friends Mike & Terri, whom we'd never had the pleasure of meeting, that they were going to be passing through the area and would like to finally meet. Mike & Terri are another full time rv couple whom we had "met" through blogs and mutual friends, so nice to finally meet them in person. After they got set up we all headed out for dinner in a nearby town, Effingham, at a restaurant we've come to really enjoy-Niemerg's Steak House. We spent a few hours talking and enjoying the company of new and old friends. Thanks Mike & Terri for stopping in, we look forward to catching up with you when we all have more time.

I saw on Facebook that one of our former neighbors was in the area so we made plans to meet for lunch in nearby Tuscola IL at Flesors Candy Kitchen. Diane was in the area visiting her sister whom also joined us for lunch. A great visit, too bad her husband Doug wasn't there too. We'll be traveling through CT in a few years so it won't be too long before we see her again. Thanks again Diane it was great to see you and look forward to our next visit.

We have enjoyed spending time with my folks this summer, between trying new places to eat and visiting some of the touristy things, it's been lots of fun.

Sometimes though there isn't much to do around here so Dave has been watching the corn and beans grow. It's interesting and educational to be here for the whole season as we've been watching a few fields and documenting the crop growth over the last few months.




For the first time in a few years I was able to go strawberry picking, since we don't have much freezer I picked what we could use in a few days. While there I also signed up for fresh blueberries and blackberries. Needless to say we enjoyed a few fresh berry treats this summer.

One of our summer rangers, Amy, lives in our campground. She works a lot of evenings, we usually get the privilege of walking her 4 legged companion Molly Rose on the weekends. Sometimes Molly Rose comes for the day too, such a sweet girl.

Needless to say our summer is flying by and before we know it September 15th will be here and we'll start our trek to AZ. We expect to arrive in Cave Creek on 10/25, lots of friends and family to see as we travel westward. Before then August will be plenty busy with us taking 3 trips, a trip to WI to see friends, a trip to northern IL so see more friends and then an owners rally in IN where we'll see more friends and make many more.

Until next time...

Sunday, April 30, 2017

On To Lake Shelbyville IL

April 10-30, 2017

We finally had to say goodbye to Curt & Glenda as we parted ways on Monday morning. They have been awesome traveling partners, great walking buddies and we can't wait to do it again. While it was sad parting ways we know we'll see them soon when they head to IL to visit family.

We had just over 800 miles to go to Shelbyville IL so we broke it up into 3 travel days. Once we got out of the Mobile AL area we had an enjoyable travel day staying off of interstates and riding some major US routes.

I have been contemplating taking a turn driving while the RV is attached. I'm very comfortable driving our big truck and Dave's recent illness just reiterated why I should do it. So today was the big day. Of course there are no pictures, I think Dave was a little too frightened to take pictures. I spent a few hours behind the wheel, made a few mistakes but that's what learning is all about. I drove thru Columbus MS and we made it to DeWayne Hayes COE just north of Columbus safely and in one piece. After checking in I gave the wheel back to Dave, not quite ready to tackle backing into a site.

DeWayne Hayes is another beautiful COE park, most sites are large and while they all have water and electric some also have sewer. We enjoyed our two nights there, even had a fire one night. They have some trails you can walk, it is located on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway with boat access.

Our next stop was at Reelfoot Lake State Park in northwester KY. A walk around the park and all we could think of was Duck Dynasty and Deliverance had all come together. The park left a little to be desired, folks are allowed to stay for months on end so it really has the feel of a fish camp.

While the view is nice what's not showing is what made us decide to only stay one night. Just behind us was the boat ramp and our view was soon obscured by trucks parking after dropping their boats. Diesel fumes coming in the rv when ever there were trucks running, early morning fishermen with loud trucks, one night was enough.

The next morning we were on the road to our summer volunteer gig. We arrived by 1pm and were let into the park by one of the other volunteers. The park didn't open till 4/20, we volunteers had the campground to ourselves for a little bit.


 One of the things they allow at this COE is the gathering of fallen wood. You can even use a chain saw to chunk up some of the longer pieces. We invested in a $50 electric chain saw and laid in hopefully a full season of wood.

Some of the nicest sites at Opossum Creek are the tent sites. All three points have tent sites at the end of the loops.

Site 24, water, electric and 60' long, one of the best sites in the park. If anyone is coming for a visit this is the site you want to try for. There are also quite a few full hookup sites, some you can reserve and some are walk-in only.

Site 24, the best view of all the rv sites.

We are enjoying being here near my folks. We've seen them a number of times already. We've have met most of the other volunteers and already have sat around a few fires with them. We have "worked" two days at the visitors center and that went well. We're looking forward to our summer here near family and friends, a few couples we know have already made reservations here and we look forward to their arrival.

As much of the summer will be just living here in the area I once again won't be posting much. We hope you all have a safe summer whatever you're doing.

Until next time...